Republican attorneys and the State of North Carolina filed their response brief against the NC NAACP, League of Women Voters and others seeking an injunction to stop the Monster Law while the legal case winds its way through the courts. Basically, the brief says that more blacks voted in North Carolina’s recent primary than in the previous mid-term primary, so all the claims about the Monster Law causing voter suppression and discrimination are hogwash. The State argues that the loss of Same Day Registration, end of out-of-precinct voting, cuts to Early Voting days, etc., have no impact on the opportunity for every black voter to cast a ballot because the statewide totals show more blacks voting.
Some analysis helps demonstrate the absurdity of this claim even without looking at individual cases of voters unfairly disadvantaged by the new law:
** Yes, statewide turnout of black voters increased from the 2010 primary to the 2014 primary, but it decreased in 8 of the 15 counties where blacks are over 39% of the registered voters – i.e., it decreased in percent of registered black voters who voted and also decreased in raw numbers of votes cast. See this Excel file based on data on the State Board of Elections FTP site for voter history and registration.
** In fact, black turnout as a percent of registered voters who cast ballots declined in 31 of the 100 counties from the 2010 primary to 2014 primary, including 15 counties where blacks are over 29% of the registered voters.
** Two thirds (66%) of the increased number of votes cast by black voters statewide came from just 7 counties where there were hot races and/or stronger Early Voting opportunities than offered in 2010.
** For example, Mecklenburg County had the state’s biggest increase – 8,282 more black votes cast in 2014′s primary than in 2010. Understandably so: it was a main center of the hotly contested 12th Congressional District primary for replacing Mel Watt, plus it had contested Democratic primary races for sheriff and county commission seats, and in contrast to its pitiful 2010 Early Voting plan that opened only 1 site, the county opened an astonishing 13 sites, likely the biggest shift in the state.
** Guilford County had the second biggest increase – 7,150 more black voters cast than in 2010. The turnout push for the 12th Congressional District race was even more intense, with two major candidates and the ultimate winner from Guilford; the county also had several other contested Democratic primary races, and its 2014 Early Voting plan was arguable as good or better than the 2010 plan. In 2010, it only opened 2 sites the first week during work hours, then opened 6 more the last 10 days with evening weekday hours; in 2014, it opened 8 sites for 10 days with 7 sites open evening weekday hours and all 8 open an additional hour on a Saturday beyond what the 2010 plan offered.
** Other counties with the biggest turnout had hotly contested races for county commissioners (Halifax), board of education (Durham), sheriff (Lenoir) . . .
It’s curious that the State/GOP’s brief dismisses the importance of Same-Day Registration, etc in increasing turnout in the recent presidential elections, preferring to attribute turnout increases entirely to Obama’s field resources, election competitiveness, etc., but then the State doesn’t admit that the increase in turnout of black voters from 2010 to 2014 is also due to competitiveness of various elections, etc. The truth is turnout is affected by access to the polls AND competitiveness of elections.
Bob Hall, Democracy North Carolina