It’s impressive that Republicans can talk about their voter suppression bills with a straight face. With the Voter ID bill, Speaker Thom Tillis says they are restoring confidence in elections, though there is no evidence voters have lost confidence. Majority Leader Edgar Starnes says about the bill to limit early voting, “I was frankly just surprised that the blacks took it as an attempt to suppress their vote,” oblivious to the racist implications spilling out of his statement. And on the bill to tax families whose children register to vote at their college address, the GOP Minister of Disenfranchisement (aka, NC Voter Integrity Project) Jay DeLancy, says “college students can be manipulated like pawns.”
How about a little candor here? Can’t one Republican look us in the eye and say, “Look, we won. We know our ideas aren’t popular with certain segments of the population so we’re gonna do what we can, through legal means, to limit their access to the ballot box.” In Pennsylvania, at least the Republican House Majority Leader admitted that their voter ID law was about electing Mitt Romney, not preventing imaginary voter fraud.
When Democrats were in power, they tweaked election laws in ways they thought would benefit them, too. However, the Democratic laws expanded, not restricted, access to the voting booth by introducing early voting and same day registration and had little affect on election outcomes (see 2010 and 2012 elections). The laws especially early voting, are popular with voters of all persuasions and are good for democracy.
Republicans might be able to keep from smirking when they talk about their voter suppression efforts because they are believing their own spin. Other than the Republican base, though, nobody else is buying it. They would be smart to take a step back and see how they are being perceived because the targets of their suppression are the future of North Carolina, not the past. The price they pay for their arrogance or self-delusion will likely be steep.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >