This is how Republicans are trying to win elections.
The Watauga County Board of Elections voted Monday to eliminate an early voting site and election-day polling precinct on the campus of Appalachian State University.
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections on Tuesday barred an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for city council, ruling his on-campus address couldn’t be used to establish local residency. Following the decision, the head of the county’s Republican Party said he plans to challenge the voter registrations of more students at the historically black university ahead of upcoming elections.
Pasquotank County used to be covered by preclearance regulations, before the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision hollowed the Voting Rights Act.
Of course, even without preclearance, the Supreme Court has said that such acts by the government are unconstitutional. (This was in 1979, in yet another case in which Republicans just happened to single out a historically Black university for disenfranchisement.) But it’s possible that this case, too, will wind up in the Supreme Court; if so, there’s no assurance that the Shelby court will have any objection at all to such actions.
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To be fair, although Pasquotank is singling out a Black university, North Carolina Republicans really don’t want any students voting:
I counted 94.62%. No fair rounding up!
Now, I have composed a fabulous response to your comments that lays everything to rest and demonstrates the error of your thinking, but I will try to stay on topic.
You said, @90:
I call them “election integrity laws,” but whatever. More on my defense shortly.
And, you said @88:
That is my position. My defense of the GOP is: it is not a racist law. The point of my “straw liberals” argument is that not everything has to do with race. You may insist on seeing it as such, but that does not make it so. There is a non-racial basis for the action, but you insist on seeing a racial motivation. And, part of my straw liberals diatribe was to point out this liberal hypocrisy. They see the racism when they want to, but not when they don’t. And, they have a vested interest in seeing racism in Republicans; it is their marketing strategy.
One teensy “straw liberal” to add (because it may help you see why I do not think these laws are necessarily racist): there has been a great deal of talk in these comments about ID requirements for voting and what documentation is acceptable (trying to stay on topic). But liberals want to pass gun laws that require photo id’s and background checks, requirements far more onerous than these “election integrity” laws. Given the long-standing racist history of attempts to disarm black people (Ms. Currie herself could not buy an AR-15 to call her own, if the Democrats have their way), I am willing to give Democrats the benefit of the doubt that their positions on gun control are not some lingering resentment against black from their earlier Klan days (or code words, or dog whistles, or whatever), if they would acknowledge that maybe Republicans do not have some nefarious racist motivation behind their election integrity laws.
I doubt I will get any takers, because that is the heart of the Democratic strategy.
@ 92: not to worry, the Supreme Court got it right.
But liberals want to pass gun laws that require photo id’s and background checks, requirements far more onerous than these “election integrity” laws.
I repeat my offer from the conservative wing (it’s totally legit, I got everyone on board with this):
Make the documentation/ID requirements for owning a gun (protected Constitutional right) and voting (protected Constitutional right) *exactly the same*.
I can live with a lax regime for both, and I can live with a tight regime for both, so long as the tight regime does permit the activity in a reasonable way for a legitimate person.
“But guns kill people!” is not an argument against this proposition. Governments also kill people.
They are both Constitutionally protected rights. Having administrative requirements for the exercise of such rights is acceptable, within certain boundaries. I am simply proposing that hurdles to be leapt be the same for the exercise of the two different rights.
Do you accept the proposal?
It’s not a serious proposal, nor is there any reason to allow you to redirect the conversation in this way.
Robert, what do you think GOP leaders who propose so-called “voter ID” laws (which cover a lot more than voter ID) are thinking? Do you believe that they are completely ignorant of all the research showing that such laws will tend to deter tens of thousands of non-white, poor and student voters from voting, in exchange for the possibility of preventing few enough fake votes so that you could count them on your fingers? Are they such saints that the fact that most deterred voters are from demographics that vote Democrat, in no way strikes them as reason to support this legislation?
If there were a button that would eliminate 2 fake identity in-person votes, and in exchange barriers would be put up in front of legitimate (but disproportionately non-white and poor) voters until 25,000 of those voters ended up quitting and not voting, would you say that pressing the button would improve democracy?
And that’s why almost everyone who isn’t a Republican, considers the GOP to be the party of racism. A racist position doesn’t magically become non-racist just because you can make up some inane, transparent rationalization for it.
In fact, by your definition, it would be hard to see how racism could exist, since almost ANY but the most extreme violent KKK position can be rationalized as non-racist if you’re uncritical enough.
“Cannot” is a slightly ambiguous word. But whatever. Research shows pretty clearly that laws like these do, in fact, successfully deter legitimate voters from voting. That you’re “thinking zero” is meaningless, because we already know as a matter of fact that the number who will actually be deterred from voting is well above zero.
To me, that’s antidemocratic. I think that the ethical way to win elections is to try and persuade as many voters as possible that my policy views are better. You, in contrast, are making excuses for legislation that was transparently intended to weight the dice for Republicans by discouraging Blacks, Latinos, the elderly, the poor, and students from voting.
In what way is that a moral way to act? If a party has policy views that aren’t capable of winning enough elections to control and retain control of government, wouldn’t it be better to try and change those policy views to appeal to a majority of voters, rather than try and use government regulations to set up needless barriers between Americans and their vote?
In another context, I could certainly take a discussion of how “social opprobrium” might warp voting behavior seriously. But in this context, the social opprobrium argument seems like making excuses for the GOP’s failure to attract more than about 10% of Black voters, and the GOP’s failure to take any responsibility for that failure.
It’s sort of funny that you refer to the mistreatment of Blacks by “the American political system,” since from the way you’ve discussed things in this thread it seems that the fault lies purely and completely with the Democrats, and that the GOP has done absolutely nothing which any Black voter could reasonably object to.
I’m quite willing to discuss the ways Democrats have both been racist (not just in the distant past), and participate in the wider racism of the American political system.
But I’m not willing to have that discussion with people who (A) think that racism is a big joke, or a “card” played for partisan advantage, rather than a serious problem, (B) Are unwilling to accept that their own party has any racist flaws in the present day, and (C) are unwilling to take the common critiques of their own party by huge segments of the Black American community seriously.
And by the way, although I agree that the overwhelming voting behavior of Blacks shouldn’t be the only factor to consider, it would seem extraordinary to suggest it should carry no weight at all.
I have no illusions; my party bears a large portion of the racial sins inflicted on African Americans. Why deny it?
But you are doing a lot of arguing in the alternative. The laws are inherently racist, AND they don’t prevent any serious fraud problem.
Well, what if they did? What if there was a major voter fraud problem, and the “2 fraudulent voters/25,000 legitimate voters (mostly poor and black)” button was a “25,000 fraudulent voters/25,000 legitimate voters (mostly poor and black)” button?
Would that make any difference in your mind to whether the laws creating the button were racist?
If it would, then OK, let’s have a parallel discussion about voter fraud and why we don’t see much of it, on the surface anyway.
But I don’t think it would. You’d still think it was a racist law, in which case, why do you keep bringing up the small number of fraudulent voters who currently get caught?
What do I think of politicians who propose voter ID laws? Mostly, if they are motivated by a desire to keep elections clean and just aren’t overworried who might be inconvenienced a bit, so long as its still possible for legitimate citizens to get their votes counted, I have no problem with them at all.
What do you think of politicians who propose laws to toughen up enforcement or sentencing for street crimes? You might think (as I tend to) that such laws are misguided because people committing street crimes aren’t highly incentivized by minor changes in the criminal justice system. But regardless of efficacy, those laws affect poor black people a lot more than they affect rich white people; is every Democratic mayor (and every Republican too) a racist because they want to throw disproportionately poorer and browner people into county lockup?
EVERY law, unless it is so trivial as to be meaningless, disproportionately affects someone. High income tax rates for software millionaires disproportionately affect rich (mostly white and Asian) math nerds. The existence of progressive taxation is not in and of itself proof that Democratic politicians hate rich white and Asian math nerds.
Are there, and have there been, voter restriction laws that were honestly and outright intended to be oppressive as their PRIMARY purpose? I’m sure, Jim Crow just for starters. Is it automatic that a law which inflicts X harm on whitey and X+1 harm on his neighbor of color, is intended to keep the black man down? I don’t think so. I have to look at the law, and the context in which it operates, and whether what it asks is reasonable. I also have to ask what problem the law purports to address, and whether the potential or actual harm of that problem justifies whatever intrusions on liberty or constitutional rights are being proposed. The simple lack of a glaring, obvious, major problem is not, in and of itself, sufficient cause to rule the law discriminatory in intent. Switzerland has strict laws against murder; Switzerland has almost no murders; it does not follow that the Swiss laws against murders are just secret efforts to imprison whichever minority Swiss ethnic group has the highest proportion of murderers in its midst. (Probably the Italians. Those people are tricky.)
Statistical demonstrations of a law’s impact are sometimes useful, but also are sometimes not. In the case of voting laws, where there is a prediction that 1,000 or 1,000,000 people won’t vote, then I want to see a sanity check on the statistics. What does the law really say, and how is it really enforced out in the precincts, and do we have visible cases of people who ought to be able to vote, who are prevented from doing so? In the North Carolina news story originally linked, it is pretty impressive the lengths they had to go in order to find someone – anyone – who might lose their franchise. An ancient woman of color, with (apparently) no formal work or education history at all, AND who has no family, AND who has lost all documentation, etc. etc.
And interestingly, I don’t see progressives saying “we need a Mrs. Currie amendment to the law, that permits anyone who [belongs to a long list of public officials, community leaders, knowledgeable figures] to sponsor X voters of questionable documentation status annually for their franchise, and have the ID requirements waived for these fine individuals who are clearly known to their community and whose votes should never be called into question.” I’d go for that. I suspect the Republicans in North Carolina would go to that, if some penalty attached to sponsors found to be cheating and putting forward voters who weren’t clearly known to their communities (I suggest stoning, we’re big fans of stoning.)
But instead of just trying to make sure that the hard cases the law misses get included in the franchise, you guys are all “racism! zomg! repeal the law!”
Weird that rather than try to get Ms. Currie her vote in a quick, inexpensive, probably bipartisan fashion, you’d rather rail against the whole system of identity checking, which you can use as a political club against the opposition party. Huh. Seems kind of…racist.
I don’t think racism is a big joke, but honestly, overheated rhetoric from folks like you on issues like this does tend to be pretty damn funny. Black farmers for generations got screwed out of billions of dollars in farm assistance that white farmers had no trouble getting, specifically because of institutional racism in the state and national Departments of Agriculture and individual racism in their own communities; probably more Republicans than Democrats bear guilt from that ugly story, the denouement of which (lawsuits, highly justified lawsuits) unfolded in our lifetimes.
I don’t remember you saying a godamn word about it. OK, you’re not a farming expert. You’re not a voting expert either but you got no problem running 50 kajillion posts about oooohhhhh its so horrible that some 100 year old geezer somewhere MIGHT lose her vote because she can’t find her birth certificate.
To your credit, you and your fellow bloggers HAVE run stories about blacks in the justice system, and the institutional oppression there, five seconds of which would swamp all the electoral wickedness that has you so het up in North Carolina. So I don’t think you’re ignoring the real problems.
I think you just have a real hard time identifying what those real problems are. You’ve spent the last 20? years in Portland, a city which is 6% black – three times the state average of Whitopia, er, Oregon. You critique Republicans for not listening to the complaints of black Americans; ok, fair enough, we don’t. But on a list of the top 100 problems facing African-Americans, where do you think “some of us might have to dig around to get the documentation needed to get an ID to be able to vote in North Carolina in 2016” is going to fall?
I’m kind of thinking it’s about #282.
I’m a big fan of stoning, too. I used to do it a lot in college, in fact – although it was mostly self-directed at that time.
So, Amp, you asked me a while back if it was legitimate for the county government to discriminate against black student voters. I would say no. That would be racist. But I’ll then ask “Is that what they’re doing?” If there’s a majority-white college in the county and they are not subject to the same voting requirements, I’d say there’s a racial element in what they’re doing. But if they’re the only college in the county then I say that there’s no fit presumption of racism here.
Amp, @ 88:
But this makes the implict assumption that those currently registered voters are all eligible to vote. Maybe what’s happening here is that 140,000 people who should never have been registered voters in the first place are now being prevented from committing voter fraud.
Then this just gets back to the issue of who’s maintaining those registration lists. North Carolina allows voter registration by mail. I assume that, when those are processed, they do something to verify that the information given was correct, and that the person is eligible to vote, before they put the name on the list. If they’ve allowed 140,000 people to register who shouldn’t have been allowed to register, then that indicates an enormous problem with the registration process.
Maybe what’s happening here is that 140,000 cats have been registered to vote by a single teenager with a computer, a high speed printer and 140,000 stolen stamps. We don’t know. We have no way of knowing, therefore my suggestion is just as valid as the studies showing voter fraud as an infinitesimally small problem.
By the way, I just ran across this bit of North Carolina voting law, which is relevant to stuff we were discussing a week ago.
So you don’t have to intend to stay, as long as you’re not intending to return to where you came from.
We’re talking a government agency here. I wouldn’t assume a damn thing.
Which the new Voter ID law is designed to correct.
When you register to vote, you fill out a form (typically a voter registration card). The state then checks the information on that form against the information in the database of American citizens maintained by the Social Security Administration. They check for a match of social security number, last name, first name, and date of birth, and for citizenship. Some states also check against state-level databases, comparing similar info plus stuff like addresses, and against ex-felon rolls in the case of states that disenfranchise ex-felons.
(In some states, they don’t query the SSA if they can use the local DMV records instead, i.e., for folks who already have state photo IDs).
So no, we’re not making the “assumption” that these are valid voters. North Carolina checked that when they registered to vote.
The new Voter ID law doesn’t do anything about registration.
Well, not at the point of registration, no – I have no particular knowledge of what, if any, problems there are/were with the NC registration system, but if there is or was a past problem with it, you’re not going to fix the already-wrongly-registered group by revising the registration process itself, however good an idea that might be. It’s too late; they don’t come register again. If you forget to immunize a million people against typhus and they all get it, you can’t cure them by making sure that the next million get their shots; you have to hand out the antibiotics (or however you cure typhus, beats the shit out of me).
Yes, of course it would.
We could still look at whether or not the specific methods proposed were as fair and narrowly targeted to the problem as reasonably possible; but at least addressing a problem that can actually be shown to exist would be a reasonable thing to do, rather than a transparent partisan effort to keep Black people from voting.
Mrs. Currie is one of tens of thousands of people who the GOP doesn’t want to vote because people of their skin color often vote Democrat. A law that would apply to Mrs. Currie and a handful of others, but still allow the GOP to deter tens of thousands of voters, would be no good, just as a special “we’ll let Rosa Parks sit where she wants, but all the other negros need to go to the back of the bus” law is no good.
Here’s a counter-proposal: Why don’t you support laws that make it convenient for every legitimate voter to vote, and try to win elections by appealing to all voters, instead of trying to win elections by deterring Black and brown voters?
The GOP attempts to disenfranchise voters actually seems to be a major concern of actual Black leaders, Black political organizations, Black writers, about a zillion ordinary Black people on twitter and tumblr and the like, and the admittedly small number of Black folks I know personally. Why do you think you’re a better judge of what matters to Black people than Black people are?
The right to vote – not just the “technically, they have a legal right to vote, they just don’t meet the arbitrary qualifications we came up with to keep them out” right, but the real and substantive right to vote – is an issue with enormous historic significance to the greatest moral struggle in the US’s history.
Admittedly, Republicans haven’t been hugely successful at voter suppression so far. But let’s remember, one major reason it hasn’t made much of a difference is that the GOP has faced resistance, especially from within the Black and Latino communities – every attempt the GOP has made to repress the vote, has been matched by get-out-the-vote efforts. But you folks are escalating (most recently by eviscerating the Voting Rights Act). And you’re going to keep on escalating – the SCOTUS will certainly continue removing voting rights, for instance, and every time they do GOP legislatures will make their next anti-voting law more extreme. If we declare this fight inconsequential and stop fighting it, then the number of votes the GOP deters might become hundreds of thousands of votes, rather than “just” tens of thousands.
Finally, the principle that everyone has the right to vote, regardless of wealth or race, is worth fighting for.
And that sneering and laughing is the best answer you’ve got shows how empty your views are, and how incapable you are of defending your party’s racism with anything approaching logic or principles.
“Why don’t you support laws that make it convenient for every legitimate voter to vote…”
Because I think that fewer voters produces better decisions, because I think that the more motivated and interested someone is in an election, the more time and thought they put into their vote. Line up every voter in order of their motivatedness, left to right – on the left, Joe Slacker barely aware there’s am election, on the right Amy Assiduous, who has written biographies of every major candidate and interviewed their childhood friends. I think that the best decision would be made with just the right-most 10% of the voters; every new vote is just watering down the process. I don’t think Joe should be stopped from voting; it’s his protected right. Stephenie Meyer had a protected right to create ‘Twilight’; I’d go to the barricades to defend her against someone who tried to take it away from her.
But I wish she’d stop, nonetheless.
“Finally, the principle that everyone has the right to vote, regardless of wealth or race, is worth fighting for.”
Everyone (of normal qualification) does have the right to vote; see me, barricades, going to.
What I’m sneering at is your handwringing equation of every minor inconvenience in a messy, inconvenience-laden world, with the abrogation of that right.
I am willing to bet that for every single person you could name who has had their right to vote deprived, I would be in absolute agreement with you about the injustice of it. I can’t recall an instance where you have brought up someone whose right to vote was taken away or substantially infringed, and I’ve thought ‘well, tough titty for them’.
But you aren’t talking about people who have had their right to vote infringed. You’ve been talking about people for whom the exercise of their right to vote has been made, at the worst, mildly less convenient – and you have shown glacial indifference to inconveniences assigned to the exercise of other rights, when those rights have been things you don’t care for or about.
If a state excise tax on paper makes it slightly more inconvenient to be a writer, a few writers may become discouraged and spend less time exercising their right to free speech. That may be regrettable, and it may even be something about which we choose to pursue different policies to undo the disincentive that we’re creating. There may be parties pushing excise taxes on paper to incommode the novelists whom they dislike, or parties demanding free paper for all.
But such fiddling about at the edges of the exercise of a right must make deep and serious impositions on the right itself, before they can be rightly viewed as attacks on the right. Three dollars a sheet, ok, that is prohibitive and warrants scrutiny. Three cents a ream…yes, that might discourage Ms. Currie from writing her memoirs, but the guy walking a picket line at Wal-Mart and calling it an attack on freedom is delusional.
You’re walking a picket line over three cents.
It’s true that people who are more educated about the issues have a tendency to make better decisions (not that this would be any surprise.) Heck, plenty of the members of congress don’t seem to fully know what the contents of the bills are and I’m 100% certain that most voters don’t. It’s hard to make your vote accomplish what you want unless you actually understand what’s at issue; most people don’t.
Frankly, I’m not sure we can ever really eliminate political ignorance, given that many issues are so incredibly complex and difficult to understand. But less political ignorance would create better government, sure.
But that’s a separate question. You appear to be using “willingness to perform a particular task” as a proxy for “informed voter.” That’s simply not an accurate proxy; it may address people who CARE enough to vote, but it has no relation on whether someone KNOWS enough to make a good decision.
Moreover, even if it was an accurate proxy (“harsh registration laws will produce quality voters!”) it would randomly, and unjustly, penalize a segment of people who are just as entitled to vote as everyone else. That’s a big problem.
You wouldn’t be making me re-register, right? You wouldn’t be testing the knowledge of Larry Liberal, who consistently votes Green because he “loves plants,” but who doesn’t understand a damn thing about much and who wouldn’t vote for someone on the republican ticket even if they were a better match for his professed values. You wouldn’t be retesting Frannie Fundamentalist, who wouldn’t vote for anyone on the Democratic side, no matter what they think. Most people are already registered and there’s no constitutional or moral justification for selectively limiting the ones who aren’t, if you’re doing so on the basis of a “knowledge test.”
Do you want to establish a new, national, voter ID system which requires all current and future registrants to jump through the same hoops, and which would result in many current/lazy voters failing to vote in the future? I’m OK with that. Do you want to establish a new, national, voter test system which requires all voters to pass a basic pre-voting test, and demonstrate some knowledge of what they’re voting for, before they vote? It’d require a Constitutional amendment but I’m OK with that too so long as it’s equally applied.
But I can’t see applying those standards to a limited group of people just because they happen to have been born recently (new voters) or moved recently (existing voters registering in a new place) or changed their interest recently (people who were previously not driven to vote and who are now driven to vote by increased interest, who should be the last folks that you want to deter.)
I wonder if making voting less convenient would tend to result in a more polarized voter pool, with fewer centrists….
G&W, the only distinction about the potentially-discouraged voting pool that I have heard anyone claim as truth is that they are disproportionately poor and minority. Those are to me neutral categories with regard to whether I ‘want’ them voting or not, despite Amp’s working theory that I become sexually aroused every time a person with more melanin or less cash than me decides not to bother pulling the lever.
I do agree that whatever rules or hurdles exist must be neutrally enforced, and I’ll even go so far as to agree that taken to a sufficiently onerous level, such hurdles start to infringe on the right. It’s just that the level is significantly higher than what we’re seeing today. As I acknowledged before, relatively innocuous restrictions could become oppressive if they multiply or if the exceptions and accommodations stop being made.
Interesting side note: after WWII, Robert Heinlein predicted that the bulk of the electorate would soon be disenfranchised because of the increased mobility provided by the interstate highway system. Back in those days, a voter from far away DID have a huge hurdle to get over; much of the electoral machinery was cozily local and if your precinct captain didn’t know you, well…his prediction didn’t pan out, however, because people didn’t want to be disenfranchised, and the cozy precinct people didn’t want to be the bad guys. So they modernized the voter registration system.
A lot of social pathologies that could arise if people don’t do anything, don’t end up arising, because people do something. Perhaps the ‘zomg disenfranchisement’ response is useful, then, in that it serves to trigger a natural desire to shut that guy up by going the extra mile in ensuring that nobody’s right gets trampled on.
Submitted with implied comment:
No argument from me; that guy is racist as hell.