Transparency and insight

by | Oct 21, 2013 | Democrats, Editor's Blog, NC Politics, NCGOP | 19 comments

I don’t very often agree with the Civitas Institute and they probably don’t often agree with me. But their Carolina Transparency site is great. It offers a wealth of current and historical information about elected officials, districts, counties and voters. Civitas should be applauded for making so much information so easily available. For that, even I’ll give them a donation.

I’ve been aware of Carolina Transparency for quite awhile but have generally used it during election season to track early vote totals. Yesterday, though, I followed a link from twitter and stumbled on their voter registration figures. Their tool makes it possible to look at trends and compare data across years.

As of September 28, 2013, North Carolina had 6,470,529 registered voters. Of those, 43% were registerd Democrat, 31% Republican and 26% unaffiliated. Also, 71% are white, 22.5% are black and 6.6% are listed as other.

In the past year, the state has seen a net loss of about 8,000 registered voters. However, it’s not been balanced. White voters declined by 58,000 while black and other races increased by just over 50,000. In terms of registration, unaffiliateds were the big winners. Their numbers increased by 33,000 voters while both parties lost over 23,000 members each.

This trend has been going on for awhile. Voters have far less loyalty to parties than they have historically and the electorate is getting browner. Since 2010, Democrats have seen essentially no growth and Republican growth has been less than 1%. In contrast, the number of unaffiliated voters grew by 4% and almost three times as many black and “other” voters registered as whites.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, unaffiliated voters were generally considered likely Republican voters. That is now changed. An increasing number of black and “other” voters are obviously registering unaffiliated. According to exit polls, minorities, regardless of party, are voting for Democrats.

These numbers illustrate North Carolina Republicans’ self-defeating strategy of trying to suppress votes instead of winning them. The GOP argues that the voter suppression bill is protecting the integrity of elections, but African-Americans believe Republicans are trying to restrict their right to vote. The GOP can argue that their support for tougher immigration laws is meant to protect jobs, but latino and asian immigrants believe they enforce negative stereotypes.

If Republicans had been smart, they would have developed their policies and bills with input from minority and immigrant-led organizations and leaders. Instead, they look like the old white power structure imposing their will and consolidating their power. The GOP can argue that they are new face of government after 100 years of Democratic rule. But if you’re African-American or Latino, the new boss sure looks the same as the old boss.


  1. Frank McGuirt

    fatbenatar, well, back to my question: Since mostly Republicans are being elected in this predominately Democratic state are all those “fraudulent” voters casting votes for Republicans?

    • fatbenatar

      Frank, I never mentioned fraudulent votes in my initial post. That’s your inference. If there are 25 fraudulent votes statewide in an election, which 25 honest citizen voters would you like to neutralize? I doubt we’ve had a race decided fraudulently here. That doesn’t make it okay to allow for a certain percentage of “iffy” votes to get by unchallenged. There are provisions in the new law that I probably don’t agree with, but to say that asking a citizen to produce positive verification at the polling place is discriminatory is just silly. Cutting out a week of early voting is silly as well, especially if the number of available hours remains the same, and considering early voting didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Where was the outrage then? Where were the accusations of disenfranchisement then, when a different party held sway over NC politics?

      I’ll show my true ignorance for a moment…in 2004, I lived in Gastonia. Stood in line to vote, made it to the fold-up table where the senior citizen polling lady was doing her thing, and she asked to see my ID. I tried to show her my voter registration card, and since I had recently moved there, I had considered beforehand that I may need it. She rather impatiently asked for a photo ID. I showed her my NCDL, not really knowing at the time that she had no business doing that. And get this….I’m white! Imagine that!

      I think I’m done at this point. But my question remains…where is the racism? Where are the actual examples of how the various provisions of this law discriminate specifically against minorities? Anything less is opinion, in mine.

      I’m off to read up on Hegel’s Dialectics and Feuerbach’s materialism. Hopefully when I graduate from the state school I won’t be just another rural racist radical anymore.

      Good night, and good luck! Cheers!

      • fatbenatar

        *I meant to say that saying it is discriminatory to cut out a week of early voting is silly as well.

      • Paleotek

        The SBOE says that African-Americans comprise 22 percent of registered voters in North Carolina, and African-Americans account for 34 percent of voters who do not have an ID issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Hence, we have a law, that, by design, disenfranchises disproportionately more minorities, hence is discriminatory. You can choose not to acknowledge that, or not to believe that this “good law” is discriminatory by design. But that’s a weak argument at best. This is discrimination enshrined in law, immoral and unjust.

        • fatbenatar

          African-Americans comprise 22 percent of registered voters. Okay, so? They account for 34 percent of voters who do not have a DMV-issued ID. Okay, that means 66 percent are some other race. I’ll wager the vast majority are “white”. Which means if the law is discriminatory, as you say, then it discriminates against whites in a decidedly more profound way. So how are minorities being disenfranchised in a disproportionate manner, when the law will apply to non-blacks 2-to-1?

          Let’s back up and re-think this…how about instead of showing a state-issued photo ID, we just require folks to prove they are who they say they are, and that they are the person listed on the voter rolls. Does that make sense? Would that be acceptable here?

          How about we double the hours and weeks of early voting, will that help stop the discrimination? And while we’re at it, let’s allow college students to vote absentee at home, and in person in the precinct of their school address, and what the heck, let’s allow them to run for office at their temporary residence as well. Hey, let’s let caregivers for the mentally incapable cast votes for their patients. If they show up with fifteen patients, we’ll just divide the votes evenly and flip a coin for the one remaining. Woohoo, let’s register voters when they are issued their SS number, forget 16-17 year-olds, sign ’em up at birth. Let’s let emotionalism rule over logic in all cases from here on out in our society. Would that make everybody happy? Would we finally see Chris Fitzsimon smile? By all means, let’s help Chris Fitzsimon find some joy and comfort in his life, and repeal these DRACONIAN laws. Good. Lord. People.

          • Paleotek

            Reductio ad absurdum is a classic technique. But you’re dodging my point.

            THIS IS A LAW DESIGNED TO IMPACT MINORITIES MORE THAN WHITES. (It’s also a law that discriminates against the poor, and against the elderly, but that’s another discussion).

            The irony is that it’s probably going to backfire in a big way. It addresses a non-problem with a discriminatory solution. There are plenty of ways to clean it up, but its supporters don’t want to clean it up. They want it to impact people, and make it harder to vote.

            That suggests the rural radicals think they can’t win votes on merit, so they’re trying to rig the system. That is contrary to the principles of democracy. If you think that’s a good idea, fine, see you at the polls. But I think it’s bigoted political thuggery, immoral and unjust. So do a lot of other people. And there will be a political price to pay for that.

          • fatbenatar

            You have not provided an iota of evidence to support your arguments. You offer insults and the use of ALL CAPS to attempt to qualify your position through bluster. You parade your opinions as facts, and when challenged, you revert to more insults and accuse me of “dodging your point”. Hogwash. I’ve addressed every opinionated point you’ve made, and I’ve asked for specific examples and evidence of disenfranchisement and discrimination, and you cannot provide it. Here’s the biggest lie being inferred in this discussion: apparently you believe that minorities, the poor, and the elderly cannot afford a photo ID. How condescending of you.

            Again….let’s forget about the actual photo ID requirement. Do you find it acceptable to require people to prove they are who they say they are, and that they are the person listed on the voter rolls? Do you think it is perfectly okay for people to walk in a polling place, offer up a name, have that name crossed off the list, and then cast a ballot? That kind of thing is called a security flaw, a risk if you will. I want just one person to speak up and answer that question. Are you okay with requiring people to prove they are who they say they are, in order to maintain the integrity of elections in this state?

            If not, I believe you are a fundamentally dishonest person. And let’s not forget: laws are for honest people.

          • Paleotek

            Hmm,, let me try again: this law disproportionately impacts minorities and the poor in significant way. Yes, of course nearly everyone COULD get photo ID. The realities of living in a culture with great disparities in income and ability means that many people won’t, and those who will not are disproportionately black, poor, and/or elderly. That alone makes this an immoral and unjust law.

            Saying I’m condescending about photo IDs is a straw man argument, btw.

            I’ve cited relevant authority. I’ve advanced moral reasoning. I used numbers.

            I find it acceptable to require positive ID to vote. I find it unacceptable to do this in a discriminatory way. This law could have been written much differently. Instead, it was rammed through as part of a far-right agenda with essentially no discussion, amendment, or improvement.

            Let me ask you questions then, fatbenatar. Why? Why are you willing to disenfranchise 318,000 of your fellow citizens to address a problem that has not been shown to exist? Why is this a good law? Why are you defending Jim Crow? Or do you not think that this law is like the Jim Crow laws? Don’t give me theory, or some “security risk” stuff. Why, in the real world? Voter fraud at the polls is like bigfoot, often talked about, but very rarely seen. Are you really willing to harm hundreds of thousands of citizens because your worried about something that MIGHT happen?

  2. Frank McGuirt

    Fatenatar,uh help me here. You infer that a lot of fraudulent votes are being cast. Is that why we have a Republican governor, a Republican lieutenant governor, 2 other Republican Council of State Officers, a Republican state House and Senate and a majority of Republican congressional representatives? Fraudulently cast Republican votes???

    • fatbenatar

      That’s benatar, sir, fat benatar. And your summation of my inference is errant. I ask for clarification on disenfranchisement, given the fact that all voters are subject to the same rules. The reason we have Republican victories in the races you cite is plainly evident; unsurpressed common sense ruled the day in a big, big way. Besides, everyone knows there is no voter fraud in North Carolina. Haha. I laugh at this folly. Except for that one 92-year-old lady whom the disenfranchisement crowd trotted out before the cameras as an example of the victims of NC’s voter laws. Given her documented history of “voting’s so nice, I did it twice”, I can only assume we won’t be hearing her testify any futher.

      • Paleo Tek

        Hmm, fatbenatar, I assume you’re talking about Rosanell Eaton. A couple of goog searches didn’t turn up anything about a documented history of multiple voting. Would you care to provide more detail?

        • fatbenatar

          And here, you have me…I have mistaken the good Ms. Eaton for the case of an unnamed 91-year-old Wayne County man, of whom the State BoE is aware, as having voted multiple times in multiple elections in Florida and North Carolina. The Voter Integrity Project of NC submitted 33 names of persons with residences in both states who voted in both states in the Nov. 2012 election. Only 5 were referred to local-level DA’s. Insert crickets chirping here.

          Whether or not voter fraud is prosecuted in NC apparently has a bearing on whether or not voter fraud exists in North Carolina.

          I do stand corrected and apologize for miscasting Ms. Eaton in that regard. My recollection of first reading of the 91-year-old dual voter was in a story from August of this year, around the same time Barber and Co. brought out Ms. Eaton, and so my recollection failed me in this instance. See, if I’m wrong, I’ll say so, and I am wrong here. Thank you, Paleo Tek, for asking for clarification.

          My overall point in this story is that the laws apply to everyone, and quite frankly, some folks are claiming victim status unnecessarily. Where voter suppression exists, especially along racial lines, let’s see the actual evidence of such, and deal with it accordingly. But let’s not create a narrative of disenfranchisement and suppression for the sake of dramatics and optics.

  3. fatbenatar

    Please articulate how the NC legislature is disenfranchising a minority. Also, tells us about this “voter supression law” of which you speak. Surely you aren’t referring to the voter integrity laws that were passed this summer (a victory for honest folks of every race), are you?

    • Paleo Tek

      Why thank you, fatbenatar. Since you asked, and I’m not very expert on voting law, I’ll start by quoting Rick Hasen, of He IS an expert:

      “I’m not big on using the term “voter suppression,” which I think is overused and often inaccurate, but it is hard to see this law as justified on anti-fraud, public confidence, or efficiency grounds. The intent here is to make it harder for people—especially non-white people and those likely to vote Democratic–to register or cast a vote that will be counted. It also makes money matter more in North Carolina politics and kills public financing of the North Carolina courts.”

      When you pass a law that addresses a non-problem, and disproportionately affects minorities, how is that NOT racist? When that law is financed by the re-invented John Birch Society (ie, ALEC), how is that NOT racist? Here’s a few pieces of the new law, which seems designed to DISCOURAGE people from voting:

      The end of pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds

      A ban on paid voter registration drives

      Elimination of same day voter registration

      A provision allowing voters to be challenged by any registered voter of the county in which they vote rather than just their precinct

      A week sliced off Early Voting

      Elimination of straight party ticket voting

      A provision making the state’s presidential primary date a function of the primary date in South Carolina

      A provision calling for a study (rather than a mandate) of electronic candidate filing

      An increase in the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 (the limit will continue to increase every two years with the Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

      A provision weakening disclosure requirements for ”independent expenditure” committees

      Authorization of vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference

      An expansion of the scope of who may examine registration records and challenge voters

      A repeal of out-of-precinct voting

      A repeal of the current mandate for high-school registration drives

      Elimination of flexibility in opening early voting sites at different hours within a county

      A provision making it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities

      New limits on who can assist a voter adjudicated to be incompetent by court

      The repeal of three public financing programs

      The repeal of disclosure requirements under “candidate specific communications.”

      The mandate of strict voter ID to cast a ballot

      Roughly 318,000 registered voters lack the narrow forms of acceptable ID according to the state estimates. There have been ZEO, that’s right NOT ONE, prosecutions of voter impersonation in the past decade.

      Carter Wrenn, an undoubtedly sharp cookie, says of the above, (I paraphrase loosely), “it’s just politics.” I disagree. When you play politics in a way that has a distinct negative impact on minorities, that’s racist politics. Or, racism.

      The true irony of all this is that this has fired up the minority community like nothing has in decades. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind. This law is bad policy, but it’s turning out to be disastrous policy for the radical rural Republicans.

      • fatbenatar

        Excellent points, minus anything pointing to racism or disenfranchisement. And you didn’t even have to answer my question. “How is it NOT racist?” Because it’s NOT. There, tit-for-tat, no evidence necessary.

        I can tell you this much…I’m an adult student at a state university, which also happens to be an HBCU, and there is nothing in the new legislation that will keep me from voting. I’m also a poli sci major, and recently attended the first meeting of the poli sci club. It was there that a fascinating thing happened….instead of enjoying cold pop and cheez doodles, electing officers and nailing down what we’ll be doing throughout the year, the meeting opened with voter registration training by a self-professed “nonpartisan” young man representing Common Cause NC. I won’t go into all the details about the voter registration training part..there were a couple of fishy items such as not using a registrant’s state-issued ID card for registration purposes, but anyway…he then proceeded to bolster his “nonpartisan” claim by having us watch a video of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and her recent broadcast from Elizabeth City. It took about 1.5 minutes of that before the nonpartisanship went all sorts of haywire. I left the meeting. Because I won’t be lied to willingly.

        My first eligible presidential election was ’88, Bush and Dukakis. I was a freshman then at another state school (long story, life is degree is 25 years in the making at this point, but anyhoo….). Back then, there was no early voting. I could have filed an absentee ballot in my home county, but I failed to take the necessary steps to do so, and so I missed by first election. However, I didn’t feel slighted by “the man”, I didn’t make up stuff about being discriminated against, and I didn’t cry about it. So I have very little patience for today’s self-victimized minority racists who have so many more opportunities to vote, and yet still insist upon be able to do so in a manner which creates an atmosphere conducive to voter/election fraud, or else their civil rights have somehow been violated. Grow up. Get real.

        • Paleotek

          Hey fatbenatar,

          You wrote:

          >And you didn’t even have to answer my question. “How is it NOT racist?” >Because it’s NOT. There, tit-for-tat, no evidence necessary.

          I’m sorry, we’ll have to disagree here. When laws are written with the intent and affect to disproportionately affect a racial minority, that’s racist, in my humble opinion. This law is and does just that. It’s bad policy, and bad politics. The Republicans will rue the day they opened this can of worms.

          I have very little patience with victimhood myself. But think about it from the other side: the African American community sees this as Jim Crow all over again. And, why should they not? As best I can tell, it IS Jim Crow. And it’s wrong.

          As a debate parent, one of the many fun things I learned about is the Veil of Ignorance, which is a heuristic for determining the morality of an issue. If you are to be born into a society, without knowing your status (that’s the veil), would you rather be born into a society with equality, or a society with great income disparity? Most people choose equality. The same for racism.

          Would you rather live in a society where laws discriminate against some groups, or not? Most would choose not. The Republican voter laws are immoral. They are designed to make it more difficult for members of a certain group to exercise the franchise. Yes, of course, motivated individuals can meet the requirements. That’s not my point. My point is that this law is racial discrimination by design, therefore it’s immoral and racist.

          PS: I think adult ed is awesome, I’m a part timer now. My father-in-law got his BA in his 80s, and we were very proud.

  4. Paleo Tek

    Whew, that’s a pretty grim prognosis for the racist rural radicals. For the record, Romney won by about 92,000 votes, which was about 2% out of of the 4.5 million cast. Given the numbers above, it looks unlikely the the Republicans can win another presidential election in NC IF the Dems can turn out the minority part of their base. That’s a big if, but suppose those 1 year numbers are representative of the four years from 2012 to 2016. That’s a swing of 200,000 less white votes and 200,000 more minority votes, which would translate to roughly a 300,000 vote (6%) Democratic victory.

    I guess the crackers in the legislature don’t understan that trying to disenfranchise a minority that cherishes voting after struggling for it for 150 years or so makes them despise you.

    But you know, being on the wrong side of a demographic tsunami just couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of greedy, racist, mysogynist bigots. Pass the popcorn!

    PS: Could the voter suppression laws just be a secret Democratic plot to encourage minority turnout? Surely the Republicans aren’t that stoopid?

    • Jim

      Nice to be a protected minority that can practice racism at will but still be able to toss the card out there, isn’t it, racist?

      • Paleo Tek

        Um, sorry Jim, but I was raised cracker. I converted from Lynyrd Skynyrd to The Clash lo these many years ago. Given the place and time I grew up, I’ll never be better than a recovering racist. But at least I’m trying, unlike the majority of Republicans in this state.

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