Guest post by Jon Green (late of Americablog) (I'm in Ireland, likely drunk.)
It was easy to miss amid the conventionpalooza of the last two weeks, but federal courts across the country just quietly dealt Republicans a flurry of body blows in the Voting Wars. From Texas to Wisconsin to North Carolina to Kansas, federal judges have handed down a series of decisions that will arguably have a much greater effect on the outcome of this November’s election than Donaldio Trumpusconi’s extended rendition of the speech the General Hux gave before blowing up five planets with a mega-Death Star. It is now a matter of judicial record that Republican legislators and governors tinkered with the rules of their states’ electoral games in order to make it more difficult for black people to vote, which would in turn allow them to win more elections.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in North Carolina is particularly damning for proponents of supposedly “race-blind” voting restrictions like photo ID laws and cutbacks on early voting. Those proponents have remained adamant through all of these debates that such laws are being passed to preserve the ~integrity of our elections~ and nothing more, as if that isn’t another way of saying that black people are criminals. As the Fourth Circuit’s ruling shows, the politicians who peddled this line are in fact the misdirecting, racist motherfuckers that we’ve been saying they were for, I dunno, ever. Of course these laws were passed to keep black people from voting. You know it. I know it. They know it. Everyone knows it. And the Fourth Circuit just affirmed it.
As Marco Rubio might say, the Court just dispelled with this fiction that these motherfuckers in North Carolina didn’t know what they were doing. They knew exactly what they were doing. Here’s what they did:
One goddamn day after the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder that the federal government wouldn’t be able to review changes to North Carolina’s voting laws to see if they were racist, these motherfuckers proposed a beefed-up and packaged-together version of their favorite voting restrictions, and proceeded to rush it through their state’s legislature. It’s as if these motherfuckers somehow suspected that the law they wanted to pass wouldn’t have survived a review by the Department of Justice.
The new “omnibus” version of the bill was edited in such a way as to take it from merely restrictive to unarguably racist. We know this because, after proposing their omnibus voting bill, these motherfuckers requested race-based data on various voting procedures and then proceeded to curtail or eliminate the ones that were disproportionately used by black people – leaving the ones disproportionately used by white people untouched. They did this despite the fact that the one voting procedure that white people in North Carolina are disproportionately more likely to use, absentee voting, also happens to be the only one at least marginally susceptible to fraud. While cases of absentee voter fraud in North Carolina exist, albeit few and far between, the law’s defenders were unable to produce a single instance in which a fraudulent vote was cast in-person that would have been prevented by any of the law’s requirements.
Undeterred by the fact that the problem they sought to solve didn’t actually exist, these motherfuckers used their racial data on voting patterns to build a giant wall between black voters and their voting precincts and make them pay for it. While the pre-Shelby version of the bill included a photo ID requirement that accepted any government-issued photo ID (even some expired ones, since they’re only used to prove who you are), the post-Shelby version of the bill went out of its way to exclude forms of identification that were disproportionately held by black voters -- public assistance IDs and student IDs issued by state universities, for example. There is no justification for excluding those IDs and not others (say, gun licenses) that doesn’t involve race.
It wasn’t just the photo ID requirement that became more racist, either. The rest of the bill became a noxious cocktail of targeted voter suppression. Armed with the data on racial voting patterns that they had actively requested for the purposes of crafting this bill, these motherfuckers cut the first seven days of early voting, which just so happened to be the days when black voters were most likely to use it. These motherfuckers eliminated out-of-precinct provisional voting with hard data showing that black voters, who tend to be in lower socioeconomic brackets and therefore move more often than white people, were more likely to have their ballots tossed as a result. These motherfuckers eliminated early voting hours on Sundays and then said in goddamned court that they did so because they felt like having early voting hours on Sundays made it too easy for black people to vote – a sentiment echoed by their counterparts in Wisconsin.
These motherfuckers even got rid of preregistration for 16 and 17 year-olds, which had allowed soon-to-be eligible voters to register ahead of their 18th birthdays. There is no small-d democratic argument for why the availability of preregistration for 16 and 17 year-olds is a bad idea. To be against preregistration is simply to be an anti-voting shithead, much like the Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory.
These motherfuckers did fucking homework on how best to keep black people from the ballot box with, as the Court wrote, “surgical precision.” Then they turned around and claimed that surgically removing black people from the polls was some combination of states’ rights, election protection and politics as usual – all under the auspices of solving a problem that, again, didn’t even exist.
And they wonder why the Court wasn’t keen on their argument.
As if that wasn’t enough, these motherfuckers have vowed to appeal this ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming that Hillary Clinton will “steal the election” if their package of data-driven Jim Crow is not allowed to stand. Once again showing that these motherfuckers simplycan’t help but insist that black people are criminals for simply wanting to vote in peace.
These motherfuckers may not have been born racist pieces of shit, but they sure as hell worked on it. Fuck them and fuck their law. They don’t get to change the rules of theelectoral game just because they’ve given minority voters a ton of reasons not to like them.