NAACP says lawmakers again attacking voter rights

Posted June 19, 2018 1:21 p.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2018 1:56 p.m. EDT

— Members of the North Carolina NAACP gathered at the legislature Tuesday to raise concerns about bills that they say suppress voter rights.

The effort comes on Juneteenth, the oldest known U.S. celebration marking the end of slavery.

NAACP officials threatened a court fight if Republican legislative leaders enact changes to early voting or put a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.

"We believe that, most recently, the activity in the General Assembly certainly announces to us that there is a continued quest to suppress the votes of African-Americans and minorities," state NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman said.

The General Assembly passed a bill last week that would eliminate the final Saturday of early voting. Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to veto the measure, but the GOP has a veto-proof majority in both the House and the Senate.

Meanwhile, legislative leaders said they expect the proposed voter ID amendment to pass the General Assembly this week. It isn't subject to a veto.

Federal courts threw out a 2013 state law that included voter ID and changes to early voting, saying the law targeted minority voters with "almost surgical precision."

Spearman said Republican legislative leaders are trying to pass new versions of those provisions in different packaging.

"We're up to their schemes, we're up to their wiles and we're going to do all that we can to expose them," Spearman said. "We will use every ounce of strength and energy that we have as North Carolina NAACP to oppose this. If it means litigation, that's certainly something that we will consider."

Republican leaders deny any intent to target black voters. They say a majority of states have some type of voter ID, and the changes to early voting will provide more consistent hours and mean more early voting on other days.