You would think that at some point, the people leading the North Carolina Republican Party might feel the slightest pang in their hearts.
Indeed, one can at least imagine a conversation in which, after receiving the last request to draft another voter suppression bill, a still marginally idealistic young aide might have the courage to speak out.
“But senator,” the aide might suggest, “I know what President Trump said, but we really haven’t been able to find any credible evidence of electoral fraud in North Carolina. I mean, we have won almost everything in the state in 2020 and we’ve already redrawn the cards for 2022 to ensure even bigger margins in Congress and the Legislature. Don’t you think people will say we’re pushing things a little too much? far ? “
At that point, the chef would probably look down for a moment to collect his thoughts, then, displaying a quick, patient smile, would look up and say, “I can hear you. And I used to have such feelings, but I finally realized that there are only two kinds of politicians in this world: those who accumulate power and those who lose it. Our supporters don’t care how we get there; they just want to win and so do I.
And that’s how the real-life North Carolina GOP just enacted some of the most egregious redistribution maps in state history, proposing a trio of bills that would make it harder to vote. people – especially vulnerable populations who tend to support Democrats, such as low-income people, seniors, people with disabilities, and people of color.
Senate Bill 326 would, without valid reason, reject mailed ballots that are legally cast but do not arrive on polling day. Over the past few years, the state has collected tens of thousands of valid ballots that were mailed out before election day, but arrived days after. Especially in this day and age when the US Postal Service continues to struggle mightily, such a reversal makes absolutely no sense. Nonetheless, the bill received final approval last Thursday in a partisan vote and heads to the governor.
Senate Bill 725 would prohibit local election officials from receiving grants to facilitate the proper conduct of elections. According to Democracy North Carolina election observers, in 2020 97 of the state’s 100 county election councils received grants, totaling $ 4.1 million.
These funds were used to purchase 6 million single-use pens to use on voting sites, pay election officials bonuses and mail registered voters about their voting options. What possible goal – other than to stifle voter turnout – could underlie such a ban? The bill only needs final Senate approval on House amendments to reach the governor.
And House Bill 259 is the latest iteration of a controversial measure previously opposed by Governor Cooper that seeks to target immigrants for disenfranchisement and harassment by purging the electoral rolls of people who have been excused from jury service in the pass. As advocates for the North Carolina ACLU have noted, the bill could result in “the flagging of legitimate and naturalized voters to be removed as non-citizens.”
In addition, the names, addresses, dates of birth and other personal information of those included in the data received by the Election Council would become public records, accessible to all, including those who would target individuals for harassment. The bill now resides in the Senate.
And, of course, all of these bills underpin – as with much of the GOP’s 2021 agenda – a thinly veiled openness to white fear and paranoia. The proposals can all be formally expressed in race-neutral terms, but as several powerful speakers from civil rights and good government groups rightly observed last week at a press conference at the Outside the Legislative Building, all three are unmistakably part of a concerted national strategy to mobilize conservative white voters and keep people of color at home.
As lawyer Dawn Blagrove (pictured left) of criminal justice group Emancigate NC – a black woman whose own grandmother was denied the right to vote in North Carolina less than a lifetime ago because of his skin color – eloquently explained at last week’s press conference, it is not difficult for people of color who have suffered so much repression to identify “the outright removal of voters ”.
That said, as with the cynical drumbeat of the propositions surrounding the fabricated and absurd controversy over critical race theory, it ultimately matters relatively little to the proponents of these propositions that they become law. Indeed, lasting governor vetoes for all three seem likely.
What is really important is that they feed into the general Trumpian narrative about the alleged serious threat to “electoral integrity” posed by the thousands (or is it millions?) Committing massive electoral fraud.
And once you’re embarked on a political agenda based on such a gigantic lie, shyness isn’t an emotion that is likely to enter the equation.