Another day, another report that North Carolina’s new Republican-majority boards of elections are trying to make voting harder for students. The newest example comes from the historically black Winston-Salem State University, where the county board of election wants to shut down an early voting site. “[I]f students want to vote, they can still do it somewhere else,” says Ken Raymond, Republican chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Elections.
Over at the Raleigh News & Observer, Rob Christensen takes stock of what is happening to the vote now in his state.
North Carolina had traditionally been a state where few people voted. It was ranked 47th in the country in voter participation in 1991, but rose to 34th in 2000 because of changes in the law to make voting easier. It rose to 21st in 2008 and to 11th in the country in 2012.
North Carolina had the biggest increase in the country in voter participation between 2004 and 2008. But as far as the Republicans were concerned that was a bad thing, because many of the new voters were young voters attracted to the candidacy of Barack Obama. In 2008, 74 percent of North Carolina voters between ages 18-29 voted for Obama, according to exit polls.
North Carolina elections weren’t great, and then they got better, and then Barack Obama won. Republicans won control of the state in 2012, and now they are using their majority to curb the votes of people who tend to vote Democratic – students and, over the past week, African-American students in particular. The county in the news today, Forsyth, went for Barack Obama twice. The Forsyth board could vote to take away the early-voting site at the college as soon as tomorrow.
As Rick Hasen writes today, North Carolina is whittling away voting rights in a way that would have been unthinkable only months ago, back when the Voting Rights Act was still intact.