NC Senate debates sweeping election changes - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

NC Senate approves GOP-backed election changes

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The Republican-dominated North Carolina Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to sweeping election law changes, including requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls and shortening early voting by a week.
    
The bill was approved in a 32-14 party-line vote following three hours of debate. Among the bill's 57 pages of provisions are measures ending same-day voter registration and a popular high school civics program that encourages students to register in advance of their 18th birthdays.
    
North Carolina's traditional May presidential primary date would be moved months earlier to immediately follow South Carolina's first-in-the-South vote, typically held in late January. The bill also weakens disclosure requirements for those underwriting campaign ads and allows political parties to rake in unlimited corporate donations.
    
The bill also eliminates straight-ticket voting, which has been in place in the state since 1925.
    
Republicans claim the proposed changes will restore faith in elections and prevent voter fraud, which they claim is both rampant and undetected.
    
Non-partisan voting rights groups, Democrats and Libertarians suggested the true goal is suppressing voter turnout - especially among blacks, the young, the elderly and the poor.
    
"This system isn't broken," said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, the Democratic leader from Buncombe County. "We're not Florida. We haven't had hanging chads. We haven't had problems."
    
The bill faces a final Senate vote Thursday before heading to the GOP-controlled House, where Speaker Thom Tillis has said it is likely to pass.
    
Moments after the Senate voted, at least four young people protesting the bill were handcuffed by police and removed from a reception area in the speaker's office.
    
The state House passed the bill with the voter ID requirement in April, but Senate leaders waited until what is expected to be the last week of the legislative session to take up the measure and add a raft of additional voting restrictions.
    
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 last month to effectively halt the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act, enacted to outlaw racial discrimination against voters in local, state and federal elections. North Carolina was among the states, mostly in the South, that were subjected to special federal enforcement, with requirements to get approval in advance before they could make even minor changes to voting laws.
    
The high court's ruling cleared the way for North Carolina Republicans to enact the voting law changes without having to obtain prior federal approval.
    
Several groups, including the state chapter of the NAACP, said they would immediately file lawsuits challenging the measures if they become law, as is expected.
    
On the Senate floor Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans traded verbal barbs and cited voting statistics intended to boost their arguments during a long debate that at times turned testy.
    
A Democratic analysis of records for the last six statewide elections, in which more than 30 million ballots were cast, shows elections officials confirmed only two cases of in-person voter fraud. State elections statistics also show about 318,000 registered voters don't have a driver's license, many of them older and low-income minorities considered more likely to vote for Democrats.
    
"This is immoral," said Sen. Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth). "It is evil. It is unnecessary. As an African-American and as a woman, I am disgusted to be here today discussing suppressing the vote."
    
Republicans took control of the North Carolina legislature in 2010 for the first time since Reconstruction and cemented full control of state government with the inauguration of GOP Gov. Pat McCrory in January.
    
But registered Democrats heavily outnumber Republican voters in the state and the margins of victory in recent elections have sometimes been razor thin. In 2008, future President Barack Obama carried the state by little more than 14,000 votes out of more than 4.3 million ballots cast.
    
Despite the lack of evidence showing widespread voter fraud in the state, Republicans repeatedly insisted that cheating at the polls is rampant and that the perpetrators are not caught.
    
"If anyone thinks that having to prove who you are is going to disenfranchise anybody ... that's foolishness," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, (R-Randolph). "If you don't check it, you ain't going to detect it."
    
Tillman and other Republicans denied race or partisan advantage played any role in the proposed changes, which they said were about fairness and restoring integrity to elections. They pointed to the example of Georgia, where voter ID requirements were instituted in 2007 and minority participation in elections grew by more than 40 percent.
    
Democrats countered that increase could be attributed to other factors, such as Obama's presidential runs. They also cited the example of Florida, where Republicans curtailed early voting only to have to restore it after elections were marred by hours-long waits to vote.
    
Democrats were not the only ones to object to the bill.
    
J.J. Summerell, chairman of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, issued a statement Wednesday criticizing what he said was a partisan attack on a fundamental American right.
    
"Republicans claim to be the party of limited government," Summerell said. "Now we see what that term really means: When Republicans say limited government, they apparently mean government limited to them and their supporters."
    
___

RELATED STORIES

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • NC flags lowered on day of Fulghum service

    NC flags lowered on day of Fulghum service

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:11 AM EDT2014-07-23 09:11:02 GMT
    A first-term North Carolina legislator who died last weekend will be formally remembered within state government and at the church he attended for decades.
    A first-term North Carolina legislator who died last weekend will be formally remembered within state government and at the church he attended for decades.
  • NC counties see sales tax changes in Senate bill

    NC counties see sales tax changes in Senate bill

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:46:55 GMT
    File PhotoFile Photo
    Four large North Carolina counties would see their authority to raise sales taxes scaled back in Senate legislation that its Republican supporters say would level the playing field across the state in generating revenue.
    Four large North Carolina counties would see their authority to raise sales taxes scaled back in Senate legislation that its Republican supporters say would level the playing field across the state in generating revenue.
  • State: Ex-Tarboro town manager used funds inappropriately

    State: Ex-Tarboro town manager used funds inappropriately

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:10 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:10:06 GMT

    The state auditor’s report determined that the former town manager “made nearly $366,000 of purchases" that were inappropriate.

    The state auditor’s report determined that the former town manager “made nearly $366,000 of purchases" that were inappropriate.

  • Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:26:58 GMT
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."

  • As Iraq gets new president, car bomb kills 21

    As Iraq gets new president, car bomb kills 21

    Thursday, July 24 2014 1:49 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:49:38 GMT
    Iraqi officials say militants have attacked a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad, killing 52 prisoners and eight soldiers.
    Iraqi officials say a double car bombing in central Baghdad has killed 21 people and wounded 33, hours after lawmakers elected the country's new president.
  • Air Algerie flight 'probably crashed' in Mali

    Air Algerie flight 'probably crashed' in Mali

    Thursday, July 24 2014 1:45 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:45:50 GMT
    The official Algerian news agency says an Air Algerie flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers has disappeared from the radar.
    An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people from Burkina Faso to Algeria's capital disappeared from radar early Thursday over northern Mali during a rainstorm, officials said. France deployed fighter jets to search for...
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:58 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:58:35 GMT
    (WMC) - It was a story that made its rounds on social media. On a recent flight DeAngelo Williams, Mid-Southerner and running back for the Carolina Panthers, gave his first-class plane seat to a 77-year-old
    Family members are upset and hurt that their relative, James Wesley Bolden, is being called a liar and "a fake."
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • No swimming at some NC beaches due to high bacteria levels

    No swimming at some NC beaches due to high bacteria levels

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:36 PM EDT2014-07-23 16:36:19 GMT
    A map of the swimming areas along the NC coast that are affected by the recent high levels of bacteria.A map of the swimming areas along the NC coast that are affected by the recent high levels of bacteria.
    Six advisories and three alerts were issued against swimming Tuesday at nine ocean-side sites along the coast of North Carolina.
    Six advisories and three alerts were issued against swimming Tuesday at nine ocean-side sites along the coast of North Carolina.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.