North Carolina is set to pass the most extreme anti-voting law in the country
Democracy must not mean much to the conservative government of North Carolina (if it ever did). Republicans with their super majority in the state legislature have been in the news for its attempts to dismantle the democratic process by considering a bill (HB 589) that would drastically reduce voting rights in the state. North Carolina isn’t alone in this regard, but if HB 589 passes it would become the toughest anti-voting rights law in the country.
What is happening in North Carolina is not a total shock. Republican controlled states across the country have been waging an all out crusade against voting rights since 2010 and shows no signs of letting up. In fact, thanks to the Supreme Court gutting parts of the Voting Rights Act, it is indeed speeding up. At the very least, North Carolina has given us a prime example of how far the GOP is willing to go in order to cement its permanent rule in states like North Carolina and beyond.
HB 589 intends to accomplish several things. First it will implement a stringent Voter ID requirement, then it will get rid of same day voter registration, it will make it easy for groups to challenge who and should not vote. It will also increase the number of poll “observers”, force people to only vote in their specific precincts, prohibit many types of voter registration drives, weaken disclosure rules for outside spending groups, and prevent counties from extending voting hours in case of long lines.
On their own, these rules are devastating. However, collectively they create a omnibus attack on voting rights unparalleled by any other state. This is a trend that has been building up for a while.
North Carolina attempted recently to nullify the 1st amendment in order to establish a state religion and passed a heavy loaded anti-abortion law. NC has also lowered taxes on the wealthy and raised taxes on the poor.
The state has seen a slew of protests every week known as “Moral Monday” for the last several months which has now led to a thousand arrests. The moral Monday protests are mostly to protest the extreme right direction North Carolina is heading in, especially on issues like religion and state. HB 589 gives a whole different reason to start protesting.
What we should learn from North Carolina is that conservatives are willing to do what ever is necessary to damage or destroy the democratic system in order to benefit their own agenda. North Carolina is but one example, other Republican controlled states have certainly followed suit.
North Carolina is an example of what could and will happen if conservatives are allowed an open hand in tampering with the laws however they choose. They weren’t able to rig the 2012 election, but it appears future elections could be very much up for grabs. The consequences of this could reverberate for generations.
The solution to this issue is not clear nor will it be easy. The easy answer is vote the conservatives out of office, but that response will be harder if they are allowed to completely rig the voting system in their favor. It seems that the public will have to mobilize to do more than just vote in order to make the populace aware of what Republicans are up to in North Carolina.
We will need organize Moral Monday like protests to get the message across, and help it spread to other Red States.
To summarize my opinion about the voting process, I believe Howard Zinn said it best;
“Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.”