North Carolina Republicans in the state legislature are stepping up their efforts to suppress the vote and further strip Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of his power as part of a larger push to help their chances in the midterm elections.
In late July, the state legislature voted along party lines to add constitutional amendments to the November ballot that Republicans claim would protect voters.
One of the constitutional amendments on the November ballot would require voter ID at the polls, which would disproportionately impact voters more likely to vote Democrat in future elections.
Two additional amendments would strip Cooper of his power to appoint judges and other state officials; the amendments would give that power to the state legislature.
GOP lawmakers also wrote the ballot descriptions for the amendments to make them seem more appealing to voters — especially Republican voters.
The GOP doesn’t usually have the power to write ballot descriptions for amendments — that job falls to a state commission of three people. But the GOP argued that the three-person commission, made up of two Democrats and one Republican, was under pressure to write “politicized captions.”
So, in an unprecedented move, GOP lawmakers created a law to strip the commission of its power so they could write the captions themselves in a special session.
The ballot description for the amendments stripping Cooper of his appointment powers, for example, will read in part, “Constitutional amendment to establish a bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections to administer ethics and election laws.”
Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham said the amendment descriptions are meant to increase Republican voter turnout for the midterms — not to accurately reflect what the amendments say. “Just like all six of the amendments, they were written specifically to bring out the Republican base,” he said.
The amendments are the state GOP’s most recent effort to remove more power from the Democratic governor. Republicans already stopped him from replacing many employees appointed under former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, and they created a law that prevents Democrats from holding a majority on state elections boards.
And Republican lawmakers aren’t stopping at the governor. They are also trying to change election rules to stop a Democrat from winning a state Supreme Court seat.
State Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin was registered as a Democrat until early 2018, and then changed his party to Republican. GOP lawmakers are afraid he could split the Republican votebetween himself and Republican incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson, who will already face a tough re-election battle against Democrat Anita Earls.
So, to help protect Jackson, GOP lawmakers passed a law that disallows Anglin from having his party listed next to his name on the ballot. Instead of saying “Republican,” the space where Anglin’s party would be will be blank.
Anglin is suing the state legislature, arguing that it violated his rights in an effort to secure the incumbent’s seat.
“Even children understand changing the rules in the middle of an election is wrong,” he said.
This all adds up to show one thing: North Carolina Republicans are scrambling ahead of the midterms in an effort to maintain as much control as possible.