Critics Say New NC Election Rules Inhibit Voting by Blacks

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When a federal court overturned much of North Carolina’s sweeping 2013 election law last month, saying it deliberately discouraged African-Americans from voting, the ground rules for this year’s elections in the critical swing state were tossed out as well, reports the New York Times. In each of the state’s 100 counties, local elections boards last week filed the last of their new election rules with the state. Now, critics are accusing some of the boards, all of which are controlled by Republicans, of staging an end run around the court ruling they are supposed to carry out. Like the law that was struck down, critics say, many election plans have been intentionally written to suppress the black vote. “It is equal to voter suppression in its worst way,” said Courtney Patterson, the sole Democrat on the Lenoir County elections board.

He was referring to a proposal by the board’s two Republicans to allow 106.5 hours of early voting before the Nov. 8 election — less than a quarter of the time allowed in the 2012 presidential election — and to limit early balloting to a single polling place in a county that sprawls over 403 square miles. In a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than two to one, and where four in 10 voters are black, the election plan limits voting to a single weekend day, and on weekdays demands that residents, including those who are poor and do not own cars, make long trips to cast a ballot. Republicans deny the rules reflect anything inappropriate. “Purely bogus,” said Robin C. Hayes, the state Republican Party chairman. “In fact, we’re working hard to increase the vote from every region and from every interest group. And by the way, no great surprise: We want them to vote Republican.” He said no one should be surprised that Republicans and Democrats alike try to stage elections on terms that favor their party.

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