It looks like North Carolina has had a record turnout for early voting for this year’s primary election. I hope those who didn’t get to the polls early will do so tomorrow.
The NC General Assembly, dominated by Tea Party Republicans, has done its best to reduce voter turnout because they generally do better when fewer people vote; if they didn’t, then they wouldn’t be trying to keep people from the polls.
The new law, passed as soon as the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, became known as the Voter ID law, although a lot more was done than to require an ID.
For example, early voting days were cut, and the polls were closed on Sundays. Before the new law was passed, churches across the state took thousands of voters to the polls after Sunday services, and most of those were African-American churches.
Polling places were moved — and many were moved from low-income neighborhoods and along bus routes to places with no nearby bus stops, making it more difficult for people who don’t drive to get to their polling places.
And of course, the new law made people get a photo ID, and not just any ID; it has to be state-approved.
Now, there’s one thing you need to know if you’ve had a problem getting an ID: You can still vote. That’s right, you can use a provisional ballot. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Sen. Richard Burr couldn’t find his license last week and voted using a provisional ballot. You just have to sign a statement saying there was “reasonable impediment,” and cast your ballot. The General Assembly added that provision three weeks before the lawsuit challenging the new law went to court.
For people who don’t have a driver’s license, getting an ID might not be an easy task.
Look at Ms Rosanell Eaton, one of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state challenging these new laws.
I met Ms Eaton at the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh. In 2013, when she was 92, she went into the General Assembly Building to try to address lawmakers about her concerns. They had her arrested. Last year, she said 94 is too old to be arrested again, but not too old to sue the people who would take away her ability to vote.
When Ms Eaton registered to vote in the 1940s, she had to recite the Preamble to the US Constitution from memory. Now, to get her state ID, she had to make 11 trips to various state agencies to gather the documents she needed. That is one tough task for a 94-year-old woman who doesn’t drive.
I have gotten to know Ms Eaton. I can tell you she is one determined woman, and the focus of her determination is to make sure everyone has access to the polls.
People have struggled and died for the right to vote — women, African-Americans, Native Americans and more. This is not something we should ever take lightly. Our vote is precious and it is a serious responsibility.
When you stay home, that gives greater weight to the votes of others — who might not have your best interests at heart.
When you stay home, we all have to endure having the government you deserve.
This administration has cut voting rights, cut funding for education, allowed big polluters to get away with poisoning the environment, slashed unemployment compensation at a time when jobs are increasingly difficult to find, refused to expand access to health care for people in poverty, cut food stamps, slashed taxes on the rich and increased the tax burden on the poor, politicized higher education, cut access to health services for women and more.
And they were elected by a minority of registered voters.
Now, if you aren’t registered to vote, you’ll have to wait until the general election in the fall to vote (although there’s still time to register for the Congressional primary in June).
But if you are registered and you don’t vote tomorrow, you ought to be ashamed. Frankly, I’m tired of having to live with the government you deserve.