The state of North Carolina has directly asked the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to allow it to reinstate components of its controversial voting laws, which had been ruled unconstitutional and outright racist by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
In addition, the GOP-controlled county elections boards of North Carolina are also cutting down on early-voting hours, which could result in long and congested lines that could result in some voters giving up.
On Aug. 16, the state requested that it be allowed to enforce its struck-down voter ID law, slicing a week off of early voting and banning pre-registration of minors for the upcoming election.
Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina refused to participate in defending the voting restrictions. The effort to reinstate them appears to be spearheaded by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, according to NBC News.
“The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is just plain wrong and we cannot allow it to stand,” McCrory said in an official statement. “We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold our state’s law and reverse the Fourth Circuit.”
In July, the Fourth Circuit Court Court of Appeals ruled that several of North Carolina’s voting laws had been designed to suppress the state’s African American vote “with almost surgical precision.”
On Aug. 11, a three-judge U.S. District Court panel ruled that the North Carolina Legislature had unconstitutionally gerrymandered 28 of the state’s districts to limit the influence of African-American votes, the Fayetteville Observer reports.
While the panel ruled those districts to be unconstitutional, they also deemed the November election too soon for a proper redistricting, ordering that the Legislature will have to redraw the districts in January 2017.
The state’s county elections boards, which are predominantly headed by Republicans, have also voted to cut down on early voting hours in several counties, The Nation reports.
For instance, they sliced off 238 hours of early voting for North Carolina’s largest county, Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County, which had voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama in 2012 and wherein 70 percent of African-Americans are found to be 22 percentage points more likely to use early voting hours than white voters.
In a letter to his fellow party members, Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse of North Carolina explicitly stated that: “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting. … feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans, that are supported by Republicans.”
The efforts to suppress the votes of demographics who are more likely to vote Democrat may be the only strategy to preserve Gov. McCrory’s position.
On Aug. 10, a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey found that Attorney General Cooper was edging ahead of McCrory in the state’s gubernatorial race by 43 to 42 percent. The other major races in the state are excruciatingly competitive between Democrats and Republicans as well.