The voter ID bill we reported was heading for North Carolina has finally arrived. State Republicans, who hold a super-majority in the state’s general assembly, announced last week they would move on the legislation they campaigned on to win that majority: Mandating photo ID for voters to cast ballots. Rep. David Lewis, who serves on the Republican National Committee, said they were going to “slow-walk” the legislation to make sure citizens adequately voice their concerns.
That stroll begins today with a public forum on voter ID legislation that starts this afternoon and is expected to go until late in the evening. Civil rights advocates argue that upwards of 500,000 of active North Carolinian voters – a third of whom are African Americans, and two-thirds of whom are women – lack a photo ID.
Rev. William J. Barber, who leads the state NAACP, has been working with a widespread grassroots coalition to organize voters in opposition to the pending law. Today, he said:
“We find ourselves at another Edmund Pettus Bridge today in North Carolina,” said Rev. Barber. “This time, on our long march to a more democratic, more diverse, more humane society, those of us who picked up the baton from Viola Liuzzo, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and the hundreds who died to win the vote and the Voting Rights Act, are facing new barricades trying to block the way to a more perfect union through poll taxes disguised as voter ID, race-based gerrymandering, plans to roll back early voting, same-say registration and Sunday voting and attacks on the Voting Rights Act. This is what hypocrisy looks like. The multi-racial, re-emerging Southern Freedom Movement in North Carolina is what democracy looks like.”
The civil rights coalition says they’ll be pushing for legislation that expands ballot access, making voting an official constitutionally protected right, and making it more difficult for legislation that restricts ballot access to pass.