They Passed a Law To Keep Black People From Voting

That's not opinion, either. It's what happened.
Greg Lacour
Precinct 30, Meckenburg County, 2014.

A federal appeals court overturned North Carolina’s three-year-old voter ID law five days ago. Yet we’re still seeing whimpering journalese like this from The Hill, in a story about Tim Kaine’s campaign visit to North Carolina on Wednesday.

“What a great decision. Participation is the name of the game,” Kaine, the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee, said at a rally in Greensboro, N.C. "That court laid it on them, folks."

Last week, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down parts of a law that required voters to show identification in order to vote.

Critics of voter ID laws argue that they disproportionately affect minority and low-income voters.

Um … those last two paragraphs. Couple of things right quick.

The 4th Circuit did not, in fact, strike down parts of a law requiring voters to show photo ID to vote. The court struck down that whole provision. They also struck down the provisions of the law that cut the early-voting period from 17 to 10 days and that banned preregistration, same-day registration, and out-of-precinct voting. What the 4th Circuit did, and we needn’t be cute about this, is take the Voter Information Verification Act (the formal name of the law) and toss the entire thing in the garbage.

On to the second paragraph. Yes, critics of voter ID laws do “argue that they disproportionately affect minority and low-income voters.” There’s a reason for that. Guess what the reason is.

In the case of the North Carolina law, not one but two federal courts have now determined—not ruled, mind you, but found as fact—that the General Assembly, with detailed data and great precision and as a tool to maintain political power, wrote and passed a law specifically designed to prevent as many black people as possible from exercising their right to vote. In an American state. In 2013.

This is not argument, assumption, or allegation. It’s a plain fact. (Which makes U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder’s ruling that upheld the law in April all the harder to explain, since he made the same findings of fact.) The law’s sponsors requested information on early-voting rates by race; when they found that black people voted early at a higher rate than white people, and that black people voted at an especially high rate during the first week of early voting, they lopped off the first week. Black people use IDs aside from driver’s licenses far more than whites; the law disallowed their use. Same for pre-registration, out-of-precinct voting, and same-day registration. Read the 4th Circuit ruling. This is no longer in dispute.

I emphasize this because not enough of us are pissed off enough about it, and those who are aren’t pissed off enough. I’m no better. I get it. We’re all suffering from deep politics fatigue, narcotized by Trump and his thrice-daily droppings of trou. It’s exhausting. I can’t blame you too much if you register with a barely audible grunt confirmation of what everyone already suspected.

But, people, repeat it as many times as you need to: They passed a law to keep black people from voting because they knew most black people would not vote for them. And say it again, and say it again, to yourselves, to your friends, to your book club, to your partners in carpooling, and if anyone dares to tell you that’s just someone’s opinion, grab them by the lapels, throw the 4th Circuit ruling at them, then point out the grass and force them under threat of defenestration to tell you what color it is.

Categories: The Buzz