Politics & Government

NAACP threatens to sue over charter school law and voter ID requirement

NC NAACP urges Apple and Amazon to stay away from NC over ‘voter ID’ bill and Charter school law

The NC NAACP urges Apple and Amazon to stay away from North Carolina because of a law allowing four mostly white towns in Mecklenburg County to create their own charter schools and a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voter ID at polls.
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The NC NAACP urges Apple and Amazon to stay away from North Carolina because of a law allowing four mostly white towns in Mecklenburg County to create their own charter schools and a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voter ID at polls.

The state NAACP on Monday threatened to sue over a new North Carolina law allowing four mostly white towns in Mecklenburg County to create their own charter schools, and over a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voter ID at the polls.

The legislature approved the charter school law last week; as a local measure, it didn't need Gov. Roy Cooper's signature.

Likewise, the constitutional amendment would not need the Democratic governor's signature — but it would need approval from the voters in November.

House Republicans propose asking voters to make voter ID a constitutional requirement. If voters want IDs, legislators would come back with a proposal laying out the rules.

The NAACP supports a campaign by the advocacy group the Color of Change to convince Apple and Amazon to stay away from North Carolina while the voter ID bill is under consideration. The companies are considering building campuses in the Triangle.

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"As a state, we cannot court forward-thinking companies while seeking to discriminatorily deny the franchise to eligible voters in our constitution," said the Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, state NAACP president.

A federal court overturned a 2013 law that required voter ID and made a host of changes to election law. In rejecting the state's election law, the panel of federal judges said it targeted African-American voters with "almost surgical precision."

Some older residents without driver's licenses struggled to get identification allowing them to vote.

For the short period the law was in effect, some college students who had qualified to vote in previous elections were turned away from the polls. Under the 2013 law, college IDs could not be used for voting.

A state elections audit of votes cast in 2016 found one case that would have been prevented by voter ID, that of a woman who voted in her deceased mother's name. Most of the problems flagged were people on parole or probation for felonies suspected of casting ballots illegally.

Most states require some form of voter ID. Some state rules are more stringent than others. North Carolina is one of 14 states without a voter ID requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Donald Bryson, president of the conservative Civitas Institute in Raleigh, said the state shouldn't wait for fraudulent voting to become a problem to pass a voter ID law.

"Just because it's rare doesn't mean it's not a problem," Bryson said. And even a rare event could swing a close election.

"I think voter ID is a positive thing for our elections," Bryson said.

Spearman said the voter ID bill "is an affront to the Voting Rights Act and the sacred right to vote," while the charter bill "spits on the legacy" of U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation decisions.

The new charter law allows Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville and Cornelius to create and run their own charter schools. A separate budget provision allows them and municipalities across the state to spend property taxes on schools, an authority now generally reserved for counties and the state.

Republican legislators who championed the charter law said it gives towns options.

Saying it's a revival of segregation, the NC NAACP and an array of Charlotte's black education leaders vow to fight a controversial town charter school bill if it passes.

Bonner: 919-829-4821; @Lynn_Bonner
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