Voter suppression in action: NCGOP tries to cut early voting across the state

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After their monster voter suppression law was overturned by federal appeals court, Republicans are again cutting early voting hours and polling places to hurt voter turnout

The New Hanover Board of Elections will meet on Thursday afternoon, where Republicans are expected to continue their coordinated statewide attempt to cut early voting hours -- including Sunday voting -- and limit the number of polling places in an effort to make it harder for voters to get to the polls.

In response to a statewide communication from NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, Republican-controlled county boards of elections across the state have been slashing the number of early voting hours, and eliminating polling places from college campuses such as Appalachian State University. It’s expected that the New Hanover Board of Elections will do the same on Thursday.  

In 2012, more than 700,000 North Carolinians voted during the first week of early voting, but some GOP-appointed Board of Elections members are proposing early voting in only one location in their counties during the first week. The 2013 monster voter suppression law which was thrown out by a federal appeals court would have eliminated the first week of early voting altogether.

By eliminating Sunday voting, Republicans are directly targeting the “souls to the polls” effort, in which many African-American churchgoers vote after Sunday services. Given that North Carolina’s monster voter suppression law was already found to discriminate against African-Americans, this latest effort should be treated with extreme skepticism.  

“Even after their monster voter suppression law was thrown out by the courts as discriminatory toward African-Americans, it's now very clear that Republicans are engaged in a coordinated statewide campaign to limit early voting as much as possible,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. “They want to make it harder for college students to vote and they want to discriminate against African-American voters by preventing Sunday voting. The bottom line is Republicans are scared to death of democracy because their priorities do not match the majority of voters, and they know it.”

The New Hanover Board of Elections meeting will be held at 3pm on Thursday at 230 Government Center Drive in Wilmington.

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