The New Jim Crow: Disguised As Protection of Voting Integrity.

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( North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) recently signed into law a package of voting reforms passed by the North Carolina legislature. McCrory approved the most sweeping voter-suppression law seen in the United States in a generation. The law is just the latest in a spate of similar laws passed by states to address the issue of voter fraud. Their argument is that just one case of a person voting who is not eligible to vote is an attack on the democratic system. The North Carolina law is one of the more stringent of all the laws that have been passed and that is in large part due to the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down the portion of the Voting Rights Act that forced most Southern states to get federal approval before making changes to their voting laws.

The law signed by McCrory requires that all those who vote show a photo ID. This can include an in-state driver’s license, U.S passport or military ID. The law also shortens the period of early voting and makes it harder if notvoter-id impossible for students at colleges and universities, who are not from North Carolina, from voting in the state. Republicans, who control the governorship and state legislature argue that these are reasonable measures, but by signing the law, McCrory has spurred a backlash among the law’s opponents, which is likely to only grow before the law is scheduled to go into effect in 2016.

For minorities in North Carolina, the law is nothing more than Jim Crow revisited. The period known as Jim Crow lasted from the end of the Reconstruction in 1872 until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For almost one hundred years, Southern states imposed laws that made it harder for minorities to vote. Laws and policies like the poll tax, the grandfather clause and the literacy test disenfranchised minorities and kept African Americans from participating in and contributing to our democracy.

The ACLU and the NAACP were quick to oppose this law just as they have been with similar laws across the country. To these groups, the law is targeted at minorities, students and low income whites with the aim of creating an entire class of disenfranchised voters. Their main argument is that the law is a solution seeking a problem since very few cases of voter fraud can actually be documented. These groups can, however, point to cases where elderly minorities have no state issued ID because they have no birth certificate or other form of identification. This demographic is comprised of people that are also most likely to be reluctant to seek out a new ID even if the government is offering them free of charge which is a key provision with most of these laws.

There is a universal backlash against the North Carolina law which is growing across America. Even  louder is the growing chorus of liberal and fair minded conservatives and that is due in large part to the greater national mood. For most minorities, these laws are part of an overall trend that has seen attempts to roll back hard fought civil rights gains. They are determined to push back against any effort along these lines and North Carolina is not ground zero in the fight. For most civil rights activists the law signed by McCrory cannot be separated from the Supreme Court voting rights decision and the recent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case.

Because the law is seen in this light, Blacks and other minorties will fight hard to prevent the law from going into effect. Even many non-minorities are lining up against this particular law because the same legislature that passed it has also taken a very hard right turn on many other issues. As the supporters and opponents of the law harden their position one thing seems certain; the backlash against the law will only grow in intensity leading to the next election.

Staff Writer; Stanley G. Buford

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