North Carolina's new voting law continues to be a flashpoint for debate, both in the state and across the country. Two new additions to the discussion, from the conservative National Review and the not-so-conservative New York Magazine, bring a finer point to the debate about the kind of fraud the law might stop.
The National Review, in an editorial late last week, praised the law for protecting elections from a "time-honored practice" of local political fixers helping their party by gathering up potential voters and bringing them to the precinct for some registering and ballot casting.
Says the editorial:
Go down to the local homeless shelter, day-labor corner, or wino encampment, pull up with vans, and distribute such benefits as may be motivational in exchange for the effort of the denizens therein to cast their ballots. In the 2000 presidential campaign, the practice was so aggressive that a Milwaukee homeless shelter had to chase away Gore operatives attempting to bribe their wards with cigarettes. Long early-voting periods and same-day registration facilitate this process. Even the most able political machine can round up only so many people on Election Day, and those who are available for such rounding up often are not registered voters.
New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait, in a post this morning, takes issue with the NRO's implication:
The point of this odd, paranoid digression seems to be that Democrats rely on the wrong kind of people and pay them something to vote, which is easier to do if it’s easier to vote. “Even the most able political machine can round up only so many people on Election Day,” argues the National Review editorial, “and those who are available for such rounding up often are not registered voters.” Note the assumption: They’re often not registered voters, made without any hard evidence. It’s just an inherent characteristic of a party reliant on winos, day laborers, the homeless, and the Wrong Sorts of People in general, which is why basically any restriction on the ability of Those People to vote is fine, because they shouldn’t be voting at all.A note: Accusations of voters being bused to precincts helped drive a separate N.C. law cited in this Associated Press article today. The new law bans voters from casting a ballot in precincts other than their own. N.C. Republicans, including Mecklenburg commissioner Bill James in a 2004 lawsuit, have long accused Democrats of attempting to tilt elections by bringing busloads of voters to precincts that weren't necessarily their own.
Peter St. Onge