Editorials

Woodhouse’s gaffe exposes real aim of NC voting law

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP, sent a letter to Republican members of local election boards urging them to curb early voting to help their party.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP, sent a letter to Republican members of local election boards urging them to curb early voting to help their party. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Well, you have to give him this: Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, didn’t try to be clever or subtle when he sent an email to GOP members of county boards of elections and other party members last weekend. No, he basically instructed those board members to use their majorities to curb early voting, keep polling sites closed on Sundays, close college campus voting sites and in general, to, as he put it, “make party line changes to early voting.”

Republican leaders believe college students and African-Americans who favor early voting or Sunday voting are liable to vote Democratic. In the spirit of the voter ID or voter suppression law passed by Republicans in the General Assembly, they’d like to do what they can to limit voting even in the wake of a federal court ruling that threw out the state’s voter ID law.

Woodhouse couches his orders to county elections officials in the terms of guarding against voter fraud. Although that’s a virtually non-existent problem in North Carolina, Republicans use the threat of it as an excuse to tamp down as many Democratic votes as possible.

But the former television reporter may have crossed the line this time in appearing to instruct county elections officials. Bob Hall of the Democracy North Carolina watchdog group that fought against the voter ID law called Woodhouse’s request “terribly irresponsible.” In asking Republicans to curb early voting, Woodhouse has inadvertently helped those fighting the voter ID law as discriminatory and partisan. And he has underlined the true motives in the voter suppression laws in North Carolina and elsewhere.

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