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In August, North Carolina passed what civil and voting rights advocates like the League have called the most restrictive voting measure since the Civil Rights era. In addition to imposing a strict voter photo ID requirement, the law eliminated same-day registration, shortened the early voting period, eliminated pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and increased purges of the voter rolls.
But on Wednesday, North Carolina Gov. McCrory alleged that the restrictive voting measures the state passed didn't shorten the voting period. "… [W]e didn't shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar,” Gov. McCrory claimed.
Proponents of the law may claim that slashing early voting is just a way of “compacting the calendar,” but the League believes that cutting early voting is clear and simple voter suppression. The law slashed early voting by a full week, down from 17 days to 10; and four days less than the two weeks recommended by the Brennan Center for Justice.
With an incredible 71 percent of African American voters having used early voting in both 2008 and 2012, the state’s reduction in early voting hours disproportionately affects the voting rights of African Americans.
Within days of the voter suppression bill becoming law, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina (LWVNC) filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the voting restrictions as racially discriminatory. Shortly after, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also filed suit. Last week, six historically African-American churches from across North Carolina added their names to a NAACP lawsuit challenging the voter suppression law.
Early voting is crucial to America’s democracy. Evidence shows that early voting helps decrease wait time at the polls and increase access to the ballot box, enabling voters to vote over weekends or at times that are convenient to their schedules, rather than taking leave from work.
Politicians might try to cloak voter suppression efforts in euphemisms, but the League isn’t fooled. We are committed to making our elections free, fair and accessible and will continue to protect the voting rights of all eligible voters by pushing back against both North Carolina’s voter suppression law and any other voter suppression measures occurring across the country.