The Republican politicians in North Carolina, and elsewhere for that matter, see their attempts to suppress Democratic voters with voter ID laws and curbs on early voting and on voting sites on college campuses as some clever game. They really do.
For even as they tout voter ID laws as a way to guard against fraud, they know voter fraud isn’t a problem, that in fact it’s virtually non-existent. And when they talk about money savings or efficiency or some of the other ridiculous rationales they use to justify cutting early voting chances or not offering polling sites on campuses, they know they’re just trying to suppress if they can those such as minorities or young people who might, gasp, be more inclined to vote Democratic.
The voter suppression laws passed in North Carolina and other Republican-run states are cowardly. The right to vote is a sacred one, granted to citizens of this grand democracy. That’s the difference in requiring a photo ID to cash a check or use a credit card and requiring one to vote. The first is a privilege; the second is a right.
More aspects of voter suppression will kick in before the 2016 elections, including voter ID, but for now, for today, citizens can defy these GOP-led actions and vote. The News & Observer’s editorial endorsements are included herein, and we believe the candidates we have supported are good people with the public’s best interest at heart.
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We also believe, in overwhelmingly recommending Democrats in the state House and Senate races, that voters have a chance to start turning the tide on the potentially disastrous actions of the Republicans in control on Jones Street. They’ve wasted time with an anti-gay marriage amendment, cut funding for public education (while passing a curious teacher pay raise that gives virtually nothing to veteran teachers), cut back on environmental regulation while opening the door for risky fracking, cut taxes to the point of creating a potential budget crisis and even muddled good things like the incentive program for the film industry, which has drawn hundreds of millions of dollars to the state over the last 20 years.
And they’ve supported things that are just downright mean to the less fortunate, such as declining to expand Medicaid paid for by the federal government or to extend unemployment benefits.
There seems little chance that this election is going to turn the state in the opposite, and in our view, right direction. But a good turnout that would demonstrate to Republicans on Jones Street (who apparently just talk to each other and listen to no one else) that their views are not unanimous among the people might make a difference.
For the right to vote, despite the attempts of Republicans to diminish it, remains the single most powerful weapon for freedom that average citizens have. Tomorrow, in that voting booth, away from the television ads and the mailings and the rest of it, each citizen can, in his or her own way, salute the forefathers, honor this democracy and let freedom ring.