Politics & Government

Apple and Amazon told to stay away from NC because of 'racist voter ID' bill

Apple considering NC’s RTP for new center

Computer giant Apple is actively considering locating some of its operations in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park.
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Computer giant Apple is actively considering locating some of its operations in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park.

An advocacy group wants Apple and Amazon to drop the Raleigh-Durham area from consideration for new campuses if the state Legislature continues with its move to write a voter identification requirement into the state constitution.

The Color of Change, which calls itself the largest online racial justice organization, said it has run an ad in San Jose and Seattle newspapers, telling the companies to "reject racism."

North Carolina is on the list of 20 sites being considered for Seattle-based Amazon's second headquarters. Apple, based outside of San Jose, California, is considering a site in Research Triangle Park for one of its campus.

The companies could bring thousands of jobs and billions in investment to the state.

House Republicans filed a bill Thursday that would ask voters in November if a voter ID requirement should be added to the state constitution. A federal court rejected the state's voter ID requirement which was part of broader 2013 law on voting restrictions. The court said the law targeted black voters "with surgical precision."

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It's time for companies to "show that disenfranchising the black vote should be bad for business," said Brandi Collins-Dexter, the Color of Change senior campaign director.

"We see this as a war that has been waged on these communities," Collins-Dexter said.

The group has been following the progress of North Carolina voter ID, she said, and knew that Republicans in the Legislature were itching to being it back.

The group's warning Apple and Amazon away from the state mirrors a campaign LGBT activists have waged over the state's stance on gay rights.

A campaign called No Gay, No Way! seeks to prevent Amazon from picking a state with discriminatory policies. The news site Axios reported last month that LGBT activists are "reacting with anger and dismay" over news that Apple is looking at locating at a site in Research Triangle Park.

The criticism stems from the legacy of HB2, known as "the bathroom bill." In March 2017, the state repealed the provision in HB2 that required people to use public restrooms that match their gender at birth, rather than their gender identity. But the state does not allow cities and counties to enact anti-discrimination ordinances, a prohibition in effect until at least Dec. 1, 2020.

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Bonner: 919-829-4821; @Lynn_Bonner