By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
During a recent Republican convention in North Carolina, former Governor Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) said that he knew for a fact that “a lot of noncitizens” were voting in the state’s elections, according to “The News & Observer,” a regional newspaper based in Raleigh.
“Ladies and gentlemen, voter ID would have stopped it,” said McCrory. “Keep it a clean bill, stay with a voter ID law and get that passed.”
The News & Observer reported that, “A recent audit by the State Board of Elections found 41 noncitizens who cast ballots. They were legal residents who had successfully registered to vote. An ID requirement likely wouldn’t have stopped them.”
McCrory lost his re-election bid to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, late last year, after raising the specter of voter fraud, then failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing during a month-long recount effort.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the state’s case against the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling on HB 589, a restrictive voting measure that Reverend William Barber III, the leader of the “Moral Mondays” movement, often called the “monster” voter suppression law.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided to block the law, due to its intent to restrict African American voters “with almost surgical precision.”
The Supreme Court’s decision effectively, kills the law that focused specifically on all the types of voting patterns disproportionately used by African Americans.
After the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, tweeted, “SCOTUS move today now renders NC’s #votersuppression measure null and void. This is also a reminder of need for Congress to restore the #VRA.”
Republicans in North Carolina have been relentless in their efforts to curtail the power of the African American vote in the state. As the demographics in America change and voter registration efforts have become more successful, Republican state legislators have focused their energy on crafting laws that would make it harder for Blacks and the poor to vote.
The Fourth Circuit Court concluded that the law had discriminatory intent to “eliminate or restrict these voting mechanisms used disproportionately by African Americans, and require IDs that African Americans disproportionately lacked.”
In their ruling, the Fourth Circuit panel added that Black voters “were more likely to experience socioeconomic factors that may hinder their political participation.” HB589 would have:
• required certain photo IDs to vote;
• shortened the early voting period from 17 to 10 days;
• ended pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-old voters who turn 18 years of age on Election Day;
• eliminated same-day voter registration; and,
• ended out-of-precinct voting.
Organized efforts in the South such as “souls to the polls” and Sunday voting were also targeted by the law.
North Carolina remains a battleground state in presidential elections, but currently has two Republican U.S. Senators. The state is clearly, closely divided politically; President Barack Obama won North Carolina in 2008, but lost the state in 2012.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election in the Electoral College (304-237). Clinton won the popular vote over Donald Trump by more than 2.8 million votes. She lost the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan by less than two percent of the vote.
The 2016 election was the first without the protections of the Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 50 years. African American voting decreased in 2016 and many attribute the drop to voter suppression efforts.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, “the Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6 percent in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6 percent in 2012.”
Many of the Republican-controlled state legislatures moved to pass laws that would make it harder for Blacks and the poor to vote, after the election of the first Black President of the United States, Barack Obama.
In May, President Trump signed an executive order to establish a commission on “voter integrity” that many in the voting rights community view as a sham and another effort to make it harder for Blacks and the poor to vote.
Lauren Victoria Burke is a speaker, writer and political analyst. She appears on “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin every Monday. Lauren is also a frequent contributor to the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com. Connect with Lauren by email at LBurke007@gmail.com and on Twitter at @LVBurke.