Vote Suppression for Lunch: North Carolina, Part Two

Another part of the Republican vote suppression scheme is aimed right at my old home turf, Cumberland County, a heavily nonwhite area which includes Fayetteville & Fort Bragg. And part of the plan is probably going to work. And this is important.

To see why,  a bit of background: in 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry in the county by 3351 votes, which was decently close considering Bush carried the state by 435000 votes.

But then in 2008, the Cumberland County Democrats, led by my esteemed and astute friend Roberta Waddle, organized the heck out of the place and totally turned the tables: Obama carried the county by 22000 votes over John McCain.

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This was an amazing feat; and it’s the more astonishing considering that Obama won North Carolina — but by only 14000 votes out of 4,271,000 statewide.

That is, without Cumberland County’s margin, Obama would have lost the state.

Could the Cumberland Democrats do it again in 2016??

The Republican set out to make sure they wouldn’t, because they couldn’t. 

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They went about this in two ways: first, they organized challenges to voters, mostly black, and got at least 3000 removed from the rolls in Cumberland by a Republican-dominated county election board. 

At the same time, they arranged for the records of several thousand voters who had registered at DMV offices (under what’s called the “Motor Voter” law), to get “lost,” so when these voters later tried to vote, they were refused because they were not on the rolls.

Civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, sued the state and demanded redress in time for today’s election.

On October 27 — with early voting already underway–U.S. Judge Loretta Biggs ruled in their favor. She ordered the state to permit citizens with credible claims to have registered at DMV to cast provisional ballots, and to count them when authenticated.

But the state has added paperwork which will slow down processing of many such voter declarations, and deter others. So the remedy is not complete.

The same judge also ordered that several thousand challenged voters –mostly nonwhite– be added back to the rolls in Cumberland. In the hearing, Judge Biggs told lawyers she was “horrified” by the mass challenges, and the pattern showed looked “insane,” and “like something out of 1901” (when the state formally disfranchised almost all black citizens).

So the rolls have been somewhat restored in Cumberland County; but only somewhat. Can the county’s doughty Democrats repeat the feat of 2008? 

Pardon the cliche, but we’ll soon find out.

Watch for updates: pass it on.

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