North Carolina's Coming Voter Law Apocalypse

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 2 2013 5:34 PM

North Carolina's Coming Voter Law Apocalypse

83558660
Voting lines in North Carolina—like this one in Charlotte from 2008—stand to get a lot longer in future election years.

Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images

It's been a week since the Supreme Court effectively ended Voting Rights Act pre-clearance. That liberated states with histories of voter discrimination (in some cases, ancient histories) from having to ask the DOJ to sign off on voter laws, districts—anything affecting representation.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

And so North Carolina, which has been pushing through conservative legislation as if trying to win a bet, is gearing up for some deconstruction of the state's current, liberal electoral statutes. The vehicle is an "omnibus voting rights bill" being moved by the chairman of the state Senate's rules committee, Tom Apodaca. Clues to its contents: "an end to the state's early voting, Sunday voting and same-day registration provisions," likely to be released after this Fourth of July weekend.

Advertisement

Let's say the state nixes early voting, or even just rolls it back in some capacity the way Florida did before 2012. Reid Wilson explains what would be affected:

More than 1.2 million Democrats cast ballots during the 17 days of early voting in 2012, while about 800,000 Republicans did the same. African American voters were more likely to cast a ballot during the early period than they were on Election Day, according to statistics compiled by the United States Elections Project at George Mason University.
The numbers couldn't be clearer: In 2012, blacks accounted for just 8.7 percent of absentee ballots cast in North Carolina, while whites accounted for 86.4 percent. Blacks accounted for 28.9 percent of all early votes cast; 65.8 percent of early votes were cast by white voters.

Obviously, before early voting was put into place, black voters could show up on Election Day; for decades upon decades, a coalition of whites and blacks put Democrats in charge of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But every political move taken by the new Republican legislature, since 2011, has been aimed at packing liberals and black voters into as few districts as possible, creating a conservative majority for, they hope, at least a decade.

North Carolina's black liberal activists have tried to slow down the bills by attrition, with the now-famous "Moral Monday" protests in the legislature. Apodaca, asked about the last protest, called it "crap." Not to be cynical or anything, but if there is a growing understanding that Republicans can win the future if they ignore minority voters and maximize their base's influence, North Carolina's going to figure it out first.

Correction, July 3, 2013: This post originally misspelled Tom Apodaca's last name and said he was chairman of the judiciary committee, not the rules committee.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 2:44 PM Where Do I Start With Mystery Science Theater 3000?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.