Republicans are taking a huge gamble. After a legislative session that left their approval ratings in the tank and managed to alienate everybody but their own true believers, the GOP is attempting to hold power by rigging the election process.
If anybody had doubts that their voting “reforms” were meant to do anything other than disenfranchise voters who disagreed with them, the actions of local boards of elections should put those doubts to rest. In Boone last week, the Republican-controlled elections board eliminated the on-campus early voting site and combined three precincts into a single super precinct with almost 10,000 registered voters but only 35 parking spaces. Elections boards in Forsyth County are discussing closing the early voting site near Winston-Salem State University, an historically Black university. In Pasquotank County, home to Elizabeth City State University, another HBCU, the election board blocked a student’s attempt to run for city council, citing residency requirements and the board chair vowed to challenge students’ registration in upcoming elections.
It’s a classic case of overreach. They could have instituted comparatively minor reforms and heard little outcry except from the most engaged members of the progressive community. Instead, they’ve exposed GOP claims of protecting the integrity of elections as little more than propaganda. They are clearly trying to shape the electorate through disenfranchisement.
Republicans have no sense of history. It’s a lot easier to deny rights to people who have never had them than to take away rights from people who fought and died to attain them. The GOP may claim that they are not motivated by race but the people targeted by their voter suppression schemes think otherwise and so do a lot of onlookers.
That’s their gamble, though. They are betting that the vast majority of voters forget the voter suppression bill since most are not directly affected by it. They are also betting that their methods will produce a more favorable electorate. Along with their gerrymandering, goes the thinking, they can rule against the will of the majority.
Here’s my bet. The GOP will lose the trust of the voters for years to come. They have a governor who says he regularly went to Moral Monday events but really didn’t. He pledged not to sign any new abortion restrictions then did just that. He said he didn’t meet with video sweepstakes shills but really did. The Republican legislature claims to have increased education funding but local school systems have less money for teachers, teacher assistants and school supplies. They passed a voter reform bill that they say doesn’t discriminate but disproportionally disenfranchises African-Americans and young people. I’m betting that they brand themselves as the party of less than honest brokers, Pat McCrory is a one-termer and North Carolina won’t elect a Republican governor for another 20 years.
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 >