North Carolina’s Shameful Record of Voter Suppression and the Partisan and Sometimes Racially Charged Motivations of Those Administering Its Elections
In July, when a federal appeals court struck down H.B. 589–North Carolina’s voter ID law–it took the unusual step of calling out the state’s legislature for being motivated by partisanship and race. In its ruling, the court noted, “the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” imposing “cures for problems that did not exist.”
Rejecting the state’s claim that the law was designed to combat the threat of voter fraud, the court pointed to a smoking gun, writing that “before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices” and that “upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.”
North Carolina’s push to restrict voting rights was made easier in 2013 when the conservative U.S. Supreme Court majority ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to require certain states and jurisdictions to receive preclearance before enacting any changes to their voting laws. Many say the ruling “gutted” the centerpiece of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. This decision was a catalyst, sparking voter suppression efforts in North Carolina and several other states.
Weeks after the Supreme Court’s decision, a host of conservative North Carolina legislators sponsored H.B. 589, which required potential voters to present photo ID, eliminated same-day registration, shortened the early voting period, eliminated out-of-precinct voting, and destroyed the ability for 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register. The stated reason for the legislation was to eliminate voter fraud, which GOP legislators said was widespread in the state, despite multiple studies showing voter fraud is largely nonexistent.
The bill was met with opposition by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, a variety of local churches, and other civil rights groups, all of which said the effort was intended to punish minorities and prevent them from voting. The legislation erected barriers, primarily in African American and Latino communities that used early voting, same-day registration, and out-of-precinct ballots in large numbers during the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Research has shown that voter suppressions policies, like forcing residents to show identification before casting a ballot and reducing or eliminating early voting, disproportionately affects minority voters, as well as senior citizens, the disabled, and low-income voters.
Various Republican state legislators who sponsored this bill also have made extreme, racially charged, and offensive comments on social media, ostensibly exposing the motivation behind their efforts to make voting more difficult for minorities. Their efforts have been supported by partisan nonprofits groups like the Civitas Institute and the John Locke Foundation. Additionally, Tea Party- affiliated groups such as the North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity and the Voter Integrity Project have supported these partisan initiatives to suppress voting, all financially supported by the Koch brothers’ good friend, Art Pope.
The push for H.B. 589 inspired voter suppression initiatives at all levels of government in North Carolina. Various county election boards in the state, such as those in Pasquotank, Watauga, and Forsyth Counties, have eliminated early voting sites on college campuses, with a particular focus on historically black colleges. As with the state legislature, local election officials claim such efforts are designed to combat supposed voter fraud, but these same local officials have also made partisan and racially charged comments on social media.
This report examines recent voter suppression initiatives in North Carolina and sheds light on the players behind these efforts and the problematic political and at times racially charged motivations that shape their decisions. Statewide elected officials and several state legislators notable for voter suppression actions were investigated, as were local election boards in North Carolina’s most populous counties, highlighting those with particularly problematic election board members. This report provides an overview of current voter suppression issues in North Carolina as well as the partisan political actors behind them, in order to combat the ongoing assault on voting rights in the Tar Heel State.
Voter Suppression in North Carolina
2000s: Civil Rights Groups Win Increased Access to the Ballot Box
During the 2000s, civil rights groups in North Carolina “pushed for and won measures to increase voter participation, including the expansion of early voting, same-day registration, and the counting of out-of-precinct provisional ballots.” With increased access to the ballot box, African American turnout in North Carolina “skyrocketed from 41.9 percent in 2000 to 68.5 percent in 2012.” The Latino electorate increased as well, growing in both “numbers and political participation.”
In 2008, Barack Obama won North Carolina, marking the first time a Democratic candidate for president had carried the state since 1976. Not surprisingly, early voting was a “significant factor in Obama’s victory,” with “55 percent of all voters” casting their ballots during the early voting period at one-stop sites. With the first black presidential candidate from either major party on the ballot, black North Carolinians voted early in record numbers, with “more than 70 percent” using the early voting periods in 2008 and 2012. Black North Carolinians especially favored the first day of the early voting period. In 2008, while making up “22 percent of the state’s registered voters,” black North Carolinians made up “36 percent of those casting ballots on the first day of early voting.”
2010s: North Carolina Republicans Attack Access to The Ballot Box
Voter fraud is extremely scarce in North Carolina. Studies “have repeatedly concluded that fraud at the ballot box—the sort that photo identification requirements might reduce—is already vanishingly rare.” From 2001 through 2012, the State Board of Elections referred to a district attorney’s office 1,032 cases of possible voter fraud, or just 0.0049 percent of the “more than twenty-one million ballots” cast in North Carolina. Of those 1,032 cases of possible voter fraud, “only one case involved impersonation of another voter–the type of fraud that a photo ID is designed to stop.”
Laws requiring voters to present a photo ID in order to vote “have a greater impact on African Americans” than other racial groups. The U.S. General Accounting Office, in July 2014, issued a report showing that African Americans are disproportionally less likely than white people to have identification with photo, such as a driver’s license or state-issued ID card. The study also found that in Kansas and Tennessee, two states where the GOP had succeeded in enacting photo ID laws between 2008 and 2012, the “turnout among African American voters fell by a larger percent than turnout among white voters.”
Since 2010, when they won control of both the State House and the State Senate for the first time in 140 years, North Carolina Republicans have made a concerted effort to impose new restrictions on access to the ballot box. Throughout the state, Republicans have slashed the early voting period, ended same-day voter registration, and passed initiatives to reduce access to polling places.
Voter Suppression from the Top Down
Governor Pat McCrory
With Pat McCrory’s ascension to the governorship in 2013, and conservatives controlling both state legislative chambers, Republicans “turned to outright voter suppression” in North Carolina. On the campaign trail, McCrory “often said that a voter ID would be a top priority of his administration,” and Greenville’s Daily Reflector noted that with his election, the “only thing standing in his way” would be a “clear conscience, knowing that his signature will make elections less free, less fair.”
H.B. 589 and Its Impact on African American Voters
In August 2013, Governor McCrory signed into law H.B. 589, “one of the nation’s toughest” voter restriction regulations, targeting voting provisions that were “used disproportionately” by black people. The legislation required voters to present a photo ID to vote. Tellingly, in 2012, black North Carolinians constituted 22 percent of the registered voting population, but made up 34 percent of those “who do not appear to have a driver’s license or N.C. photo ID.” This bill also reduced the early voting period from seventeen days to ten. Black North Carolinians “cast 33 percent of the ballots in the first week of early voting,” and overall, 70 percent of black voters cast their ballot during the early voting period. Additionally, black North Carolinians disproportionately took advantage of the first Sunday of early voting: 43 percent of voters who cast their ballots that day were black.
H.B. 589 also eliminated the use of out-of-precinct provisional ballots, when thirty percent of North Carolinians who cast out-of-precinct ballots on election day were black. Gov. McCrory’s bill also ended the preregistration of teenagers before their eighteenth birthday, and abolished same-day voter registration.
This bill was the centerpiece of an agenda to make voting “more difficult for hundreds of thousands.” Unfortunately for those pushing the effort, neutral observers and voting rights advocates noticed. Independent voting rights groups “joined Democrats and libertarians in suggesting the true goal” of the effort was to “suppress voter turnout, especially among blacks, the young, the elderly, and the poor, while newspapers throughout the state were highly critical of this bill and its intent. Even prominent Republican and former secretary of state Colin Powell spoke out against the bill, saying it would “punish minority voters and make it more difficult for North Carolinians to cast a vote.” Asheville’s Citizen-Times wrote that the “only sort of voter fraud this measure would stop–the use by a voter of someone else’s ID–is virtually unknown.” The Charlotte Observer wrote that such voter fraud was “all but non-existent in North Carolina,” and called defending the legislation a “wasteful boondoggle.”
When the legislature passed the original version of H.B. 589, it only included a voter ID requirement. But following the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Republican leaders rewrote the legislation to include additional voter suppression provisions, including a more stringent photo ID requirement, the elimination of same-day voter registration, and the reduction of early voting days from seventeen to ten. Veteran GOP strategist Carter Wrenn admitted that the North Carolina GOP had pushed a reduction in early voting and voter ID laws because they’re “still smart[ing] from 2008,” when Democrats had successfully used the early vote to bring people to the polls who would have voted “because Obama was running.” All thirteen sponsors of H.B. 589 were Republicans. The Daily Reflector, had warned that the original version of H.B. 589, before it was rewritten to include even tougher voter suppression provisions, would be “disenfranchisement on an epic scale.”
Immediately following Governor McCrory signing H.B. 589 into law, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, six “historically African-American churches in Merry Hill, Brevard, Durham, Hickory and Chapel Hill,” and other civil rights groups filed suit against the state, alleging voter suppression. The U.S. Department of Justice, in September 2013, announced it would also be filing suit against North Carolina for the bill, alleging “at least four provisions of House Bill 589 were adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying” a “minority group” the right to vote. The defendants in these lawsuits–the State of North Carolina, Governor McCrory, and the State Board of Elections–responded that state legislators had the authority to reform elections law, and claimed the changes were not intended to disenfranchise minority voters. Senate President Phil Berger and then house speaker Thom Tillis released a statement blasting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for “playing politics” with the lawsuit and its “baseless claims about North Carolina’s election reform law.”
In May 2014, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder upheld a magistrate judge’s decision to order state legislators to turn over all records sought by subpoena. More than a dozen legislators, including Tillis and Berger, had requested that the “subpoenas seeking more records and correspondence from them be stopped based on legislative immunity.” The News & Observer hit these Republican lawmakers for “hiding from public disclosure” behind legislative immunity claims, and called on them to release the documents “created on the public’s dime that influenced the creation of legislation.” The News & Observer also correctly predicted that these documents “may show an intent to make it more difficult for Democrat-leaning African Americans, college students, or elderly residents to vote.”
In 2015, amid the legal challenge from the Justice Department and civil rights groups, the Republicans voted to soften the voter ID law provision of H.B. 589, to assist “people who have a ‘reasonable impediment’ to obtaining” a photo ID. The GOP defined a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID as an “illness, lack of transportation to obtain a photo ID, or a lost or stolen card.” An email exchange between GOP State Reps. Chuck McGrady and Chris Whitmire, that became public months after the legislative fix, supported the suggestion that it was “primarily intended to improve the state’s chances of defending the law in court.” Voter suppression groups, including the Voter Integrity Project and the Civitas Institute, opposed the softening of the voter ID law. Jay DeLancy, the director of the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina, said, “Our breath is taken away at the depth of the loophole,” while Susan Myrick, the elections policy analyst for Civitas Institute, said the change “guts” and “demolishes” the law.
In July 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit forcefully struck down North Carolina’s voter identification law, ruling its provisions “deliberately ‘target African-Americans with almost surgical precision’ in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls.” Declaring that they “can only conclude” that the legislation was written “with discriminatory intent,” the Court’s ruling also “restored voters’ ability to register on Election Day, to register before reaching the 18-year-old voting age, and to cast early ballots,” and “deemed valid” the ballots of those who had “mistakenly voted at the wrong polling stations.”
The Court determined that they could not “ignore the record evidence” that “Republican leaders” had “enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history” after “receiving data indicating that African Americans would be the voters most significantly affected.” While crafting the legislation, the Republican-controlled General Assembly had “requested and received data on voters’ use of various voting practices by race” that showed African American voters were “disproportionately less likely to have an ID, (and) more likely to cast a provisional ballot and take advantage of pre-registration.” Then, with “race data in hand, the legislature amended the bill to exclude many of the alternative photo IDs used by African Americans” and “retained only the kinds of IDs that white North Carolinians were more likely to possess.” Following the sweeping decision Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, and Governor McCrory vowed to appeal the ruling, with McCrory blasting the “three Democratic judges” for “undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state.”
Voter Suppression in the North Carolina State Legislature
Former State House Speaker, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis
One of North Carolina’s leading voter suppression advocates is U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, who previously served as State House speaker from 2011 through 2014. As speaker, Tillis oversaw a State House GOP caucus that “stuffed themselves when it came to redistricting,” gave themselves “partisan advantage beyond common sense, and then they turned to outright voter suppression.” His efforts trickled down to the rest of the state.
In October 2014, The News & Observer wrote that Tillis’ House GOP “set a tone for boards of elections controlled by their party to join in trying to put as heavy a lid on Democratic turnout as they could.” Tillis also worked to suppress the vote prior to accepting the speaker’s gavel: co-sponsoring a bill in 2009 to “require voters to provide identification before voting.” One of the main proponents of H.B. 589, Tillis “spoke confidently of it becoming law” the very morning it was introduced.
In June 2013, Tillis announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate. At roughly the same time, his House GOP colleagues were rewriting H.B. 589 to make it even stricter. Elon University Professor Dr. Jason Husser said that Tillis, who as speaker “in many ways” had “the most influence over this legislation,” could “benefit the most from it,” because it could “give him a couple of points advantage over who turns out on Election Day.” That same year, during an interview about the bill, Tillis admitted that “actual voter fraud” was “not the primary reason” of the voter ID legislation; it was about “restoring confidence in government.” He also said he believed that voter fraud in North Carolina was somewhere between an “imagined” problem and a “real problem.” Penda Hair, a lawyer with the civil rights group the Advancement Project said of the Tillis-supported legislation, “I have never seen a single law that is more anti-voter.” NAACP President Rev. William J. Barber II said that Tillis, by introducing H.B. 589 “on the 45th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King,” had stooped to a “new moral low ground.”
State Representative Bert Jones
In 2011, the Republican-controlled State House passed a bill to reduce the early voting period from two and a half weeks to a week and a half. The bill sponsor, Rep. Bert Jones, claimed his intent was to save taxpayer money, because reduced voting days would mean “local boards of elections wouldn’t have to pay as much for poll workers and early voting sites.” Critics of Rep. Jones’ bill pushed back against the legislation, because it would “reduce turnout, particularly among African Americans.” Guilford County Elections Director George Gilbert rebuked Jones’ claim about saving money as “wrong,” because the decrease in early voting days might lead local election board to adjust “staffing and the number of early voting locations available” based on the demand for early voting.
It was not Jones’ first election-related controversy. In 2010, the director of economic development of Eden, NC, Mike Dougherty, filed a complaint with the Rockingham County Board of Elections alleging that Jones’ campaigners were “overly aggressive.” Dougherty claimed that when he walked into his polling place, “a Jones campaigner yelled at him, asking if he was going to vote” and after he told her it wasn’t any of her business, she “appeared to take a cell phone photograph of his car as he left the YMCA parking lot.”
State Senator Jim Davis
In 2011, Republican Sen. Jim Davis introduced a bill to eliminate same-day registration, reduce the early voting period by a week, and prohibit early voting on Sundays. Democrats in North Carolina, through the “Souls to the Polls” effort, had been taking “groups of voters to the polls after church.” Sunday voting days were even more important to black churches, traditionally known to transport worshipers to the polls after church.
State Senator Ralph Hise
Senator Ralph Hise was a co-sponsor of Sen. Davis’ legislation that sought to eliminate same-day registration, reduce the early voting period by a week, and prohibit early voting on Sundays. Hise admitted the legislation targeted Sunday voting because it was “obvious” it had been “used by urban areas to increase their influence” and acknowledged “that he wouldn’t mind eliminating early voting completely.” The Charlotte Observer wrote that GOP vote-restriction bills like this were an “attempt to make elections more like those in a time when only white men who owned land and paid poll taxes could vote.” In 2013, Hise was one of the thirteen GOP sponsors of H.B. 589, the now infamous voter suppression bill.
State Senator Bob Rucho
Senator Bob Rucho, a Republican and a “chief advocate” of H.B. 589, spoke during a Senate committee hearing in support of the legislation, claiming that “everyone knows” of cases of voter impersonation but they “never seem to get recorded or reported.” Sen. Rucho was a “key figure in drafting” H.B. 589 and “helped shepherd the voter ID legislation.”
In December 2013, Sen. Rucho tweeted that the Affordable Care Act had “done more damage to the USA” than acts committed by “Nazis, Soviets, and terrorists combined.” His comparison made national news, and even Claude Pope, the state Republican party chair, called on Sen. Rucho to apologize. Instead, Sen. Rucho doubled down by refusing to apologize for the statement, which he said stood on “truth,” and was “‘designed to show the severity’ of the damage that has been and will be caused by President Obama’s health-care law.”
State Senator Phil Berger
State Senate President Phil Berger, a consistent supporter of voter suppression laws, was one of the major players behind passing H.B. 589, and even bragged about not backing down from the voter ID fight during his 2014 reelection campaign. During the legislative debate over the bill, Berger falsely claimed the changes made by H.B. 589 would still allow voters to have “the same number of hours” for early voting. In 2014, voters in “more than a third of North Carolina’s one hundred counties” had “less time to vote,” when the GOP-controlled State Board of Elections allowed thirty-eight counties to “reduce early voting hours compared to 2010.” These thirty-eight counties argued that due to H.B. 589 mandating a reduction in the number of early voting days, “opening additional sites or offering longer hours would strain limited resources or require hiring additional staff.”
State Representative Michael Speciale
State Representative Michael Speciale is an extreme advocate for voter suppression. In fact, during his first month in the legislature, Speciale said he hoped to pass a voter ID bill with “a photo ID requirement.” When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, he boasted that he was “confident” H.B. 589 would be “stronger.” In June 2015, Speciale even promised a media outlet that he would be introducing a bill to “scrap” the exception that Republicans passed to make H.B. 589 more legally palatable in the face of the impending lawsuit.
In early 2013, when NAACP President Rev. William J. Barber II urged the legislature to oppose voter ID legislation, Speciale called Barber and the NAACP “racists.” In an e-mail, Speciale said Barber’s opposition was “tarnishing the NAACP’s proud history” with “racist diatribes and . . . [a] race baiting attitude.” In September 2015, Speciale shared a Facebook post calling President Obama an “Islamic son of a b***h.”
Speciale has published several bigoted and radical items on Facebook in 2016. In August, he posted a photo suggesting that wearing Nazi uniforms to the Democratic National Convention would allow attendees to go “unnoticed.” He also promoted conspiracy theories about Secretary Hillary Clinton’s health, posting an article from Mad World News, claiming Clinton was traveling with a mysterious black “handler” who was always “right at her side” because he was treating her for seizures. The article, from a website claiming to be “firmly devoted to bringing you the truth” ignored by the “liberal” mainstream media, asserted this handler was “caught carrying around a Diazepam pen,” which is “prescribed only to people who have recurrent seizures.” In July 2016, Speciale used a meme of Dr. Evil to say that while First Lady Michelle Obama said she lives in a house “built by slaves,” they were actually “taxpayers,” and mocked the Black Lives Matter movement by posting the caption “Italian Lives Matter” because “who is gonna make the pizza?”
State Representative Harry Warren
State Representative Harry Warren, a frequent guest at the Rowan County Tea Party Patriot meetings, was one of the sponsors of H.B. 589, the voter suppression legislation that supporters said was designed to tackle voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence of that such fraud was a problem in North Carolina.  Warren seems to know quite a bit about fraud. In fact, in Florida he was charged:
- In June 1998 with “Knowingly Uttering or Issuing a [$310] Worthless Check,” though the case was dropped when the statute of limitations was reached (St. Johns County Florida Case #98001705CFMA);
- In July 1998 with “Worthless Check – 3 Party” for writing a bad check valued at $2,000 from an American Classic Pools account, though the case was dropped in 2011 (Duval County Court Case #16-1998-CF-008196-AXXX-MA);
- In January 1999 with “Worthless Check (Accounts Receivable),” though the case was dropped in 2007 (Duval County Court Case #16-1999-MM-005643-AXXX-MA);
- In March 1998 with “Obtaining Property in Return for a Worthless Check,” though the case was dropped in 2000 (Duval County Court Case #16-1998-CF-003361-AXXX-MA);
- In April 1998 with “Worthless Check – Obtaining Property Less than $150.00,” though the case was dropped in 2000 (Duval County Court Case #16-1998-MM-021772-AXX-MA);
- In May 1998 with “Obtaining Property in Return for a Worthless Check,” though the case was dropped in 2000 (Duval County Court Case #16-1998-CF-005582-AXXX-MA); and
- In June 1998 with “Worthless Check – 3 Party,” though the case was dropped in 2000 (Duval County Court Case #16-1998-MM-033961-AXXX-MA).
- In June 1999 with “Worthless Check – 3 Party” for writing a bad check valued at $464, though the case was dropped in 2011 (Duval County Court Case #16-1999-CF-007196AXXXA).
Legislation backed by Warren reduced the early voting period from seventeen days to ten. Despite this support for cutting early voting, thirteen days before the 2010 election Warren gushed that turnout from early voting was showing “that there is a high interest in these races.”
State Representative George Cleveland
In 2011, State Representative George Cleveland introduced a bill to erase the “requirement that certain counties print ballot instructions in both English and Spanish.” The News & Observer was critical of this bill because it “seem(ed) intended to discourage” American citizens whose “first language is Spanish” from voting.
State Representative Tim Moore
State Representative Tim Moore, the current Speaker of the North Carolina House, is a “longtime voter ID advocate.” In 2011, he sponsored a bill that would have required voters to show photo ID to vote. Moore’s legislation was passed in the GOP-controlled House and Senate, but was vetoed by then governor Bev Perdue, and the House “fell short” in its attempt to override the veto. Rodney Moore, an African American Representative from Mecklenburg, called the bill “an insult” to him and to “the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.” He insisted “there is no substantive problem in North Carolina with voter fraud,” and that this was “purely an attempt at voter suppression.” Following the passage of the bill in the House, Rodney Moore spoke out even more forcefully against this voter suppression effort, saying he felt like his rights “have been raped.”
North Carolina’s Local Election Officials
On The Front Lines of Voter Suppression (and Racially Charged Commentary)
Former Republican Precinct Chair Don Yelton
Don Yelton is the former precinct chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party. In a 2013 House Elections Committee meeting, Yelton told state legislators that “changing state election laws could help Republicans win elections” by disenfranchising “’special voting blocks’” in the Democratic Party. Yelton ensured legislators understood what he meant by driving home his point that this disenfranchisement “within itself is the reason for the photo voter ID, period, end of discussion.”
He went on to make national headlines later in 2013, when he went on The Daily Show to defend his party’s H.B. 589. In the interview, Yelton bragged that the law was going to “kick the Democrats in the butt,” and if it “hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.” He added that it was “racist for black people to use the N-word” and confirmed he posted on Facebook a photo of President “Obama sittin’ on a stump as a witch doctor,” but it was okay because he was “making fun of the white half of Obama, not the black half.” In an editorial The News & Observer wrote that Yelton’s comments “pulled back the curtain of weak justifications for the law, and there stood Republicans, like the emperor, without a stitch on.” Yelton, who was asked to step down after the video aired, said he “has no regrets” about his racially charged comments.
In 2016, Yelton commented on Facebook, “Maybe we are dooming ourselves” because the “Muslims reproduce too,” on an article about how “minority births” were becoming a majority of births in the United States.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections
The North Carolina State Board of Elections, or SBOE, is a five-member body responsible for the “administration of the elections process and campaign finance disclosure in North Carolina.” The Board members are appointed by the sitting governor after being recommended by the chair of each state party, although the sitting governor cannot appoint no more than three members of the same party.
In April 2013, Governor McCrory announced that he had “appointed a new five-member State Board of Elections,” with three Republicans controlling the board. Currently, A. Grant Whitney, James Baker, and Rhonda K. Amoroso serve as the Republican members of the SBOE. Just a few days after she had been appointed, it was reported that Amoroso was “championing changes to election laws in the state–particularly the new voter ID legislation.”
Once appointed, McCrory’s new SBOE quickly worked to advance the goal of voter suppression. In 2014, the SBOE released a report claiming of the 4.45 million North Carolinians who voted in the 2012 election “more than thirty-five thousand” had “the same name and birthdate as voters registered in another state.” The board admitted when they expanded their search to include social security numbers, that number dropped down to 765. That detail notwithstanding, Republican officials and voter suppression groups pounced on the report. Then speaker of the North Carolina House Thom Tillis said this “put to rest” claims that voter fraud doesn’t exist, while the Civitas Institute said it “put a little bit of light on the possibility that [fraud] is happening.”
That same year, the SBOE approved giving voters in “more than a third” of North Carolina’s 100 counties “less time to vote” when it allowed thirty-eight counties to “reduce early voting hours compared to 2010.” These thirty-eight counties argued that, due to H.B. 589’s mandated reduction in the number of early voting days, “opening additional sites or offering longer hours would strain limited resources or require hiring additional staff.”
Since McCrory first appointed his new board, the SBOE has approved a number of county voting plans that aimed to suppress minority and Democratic turnout. For example, in February 2016, the SBOE voted to approve Forsyth County Board of Elections’ 2016 primary early voting plan that “excludes the campus of Winston-Salem State University,” a historically black university. In denying the students the possibility of being able to early vote on campus, SBOE Chairman Grant Whitney said he was “worried that putting an early voting [sic] at the school might lead every other college to want early voting.”
Kim Strach was hired by the SBOE board in 2013 as executive director. In August 2015, she testified on behalf of state officials in the federal voting rights trial that civil rights groups and the Justice Department had brought against the state and the Republican Party. In her testimony, Strach claimed that her office had “received numerous calls” from residents “concerned about potential voter fraud,” but during the cross-examination admitted “she could not find any evidence of significant fraud in same-day voter registration.” Strach’s husband, Phil Strach, was “one of the attorneys representing North Carolina and McCrory” in the H.B. 589 lawsuit.
One of the SBOE’s most important responsibilities is to appoint the members of the county boards of election throughout North Carolina. Every county board of election in the state has three members, all of whom are selected by the SBOE, though the majority party can only control two of the three seats.
In 2011, county commissioners in Rowan, Davidson, Gaston, and Craven counties requested the state legislature pass a law to apply the voter ID requirement on a county-by-county basis. In other words, these local voter suppression advocates requested the state legislature pass “legislation that applies to some counties but not others” because bills “that apply to local matters generally can’t be vetoed by the governor.”
Much like the North Carolina Republican Party, local GOP-appointed boards of elections throughout the state have launched initiatives to suppress minority voting.
The Watauga County Board of Elections
The Watauga County Board of Elections has been repeatedly criticized for its dysfunctional performance and brazen attempts at voter suppression.
Watauga County Board of Elections Chair Bill Aceto
At the center of the dysfunction and voter suppression efforts of the Watauga County Board of Elections is Republican Bill Aceto, who serves as the board’s chairman. In addition to other controversies faced since being appointed to the board in 2013, Aceto has repeatedly pushed failed attempts to eliminate a polling place at the Appalachian State University student union, and advocated for consolidating the three precincts in the county’s largest town into a single voting site. This single polling site that boasted a grand total of twenty-eight parking spots, would have had to serve almost ten thousand registered voters.
Aceto makes an obscene gesture in a 2010 photo.
2016 Voter Suppression Efforts
Before the 2016 election, the Watauga County Board of Elections failed to agree on an early voting plan after months of disagreement between board members. The board was unable to decide between conflicting early voting plans introduced by Democratic member Stella Anderson, and Republican chair Bill Aceto, whose plan moved Appalachian State University’s designated early voting site from their student union to Legends, a nearby BYOB music venue.
The Watauga Democrat reported that the August 2016 board meeting “devolved into shouts of dissatisfaction, outrage, and calls from the crowd for board members to resign as once again the three-member panel was unable to come to a unanimous decision on a one-stop early voting plan for the county,” with some attendees specifically calling for Aceto’s resignation.
Aceto’s plan was criticized as a Republican tactic to suppress the votes of students, who tend to vote Democratic. It was opposed by officials at Appalachian State University and local Democrats, including an affiliated group of citizens called the Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force. Letters from Aceto and County Attorney Stacy “Four” Eggers showed that they believed a single early voting site would be sufficient to serve the entire county in the 2016 presidential election, which the task force denounced as “deliberate voter suppression.”
“The bottom line,” stated Pam Williamson, on behalf of the Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force, “is that the majority members of the Watauga County Board of Elections are willing to throw out every single early voting site for the November presidential elections in Deep Gap, Western Watauga, Blowing Rock, and Meat Camp just to prevent those who wish to vote at an ASU student union site from doing so.”
At the September 2016 State Board of Elections hearing on early voting plans, member Joshua Malcolm gave his impressions of Legends, the music venue Aceto designated as an polling place, after assessing the site. Noting that he meant “no disrespect,” Malcolm described Legends as “a rundown former IGA, Hills, Piggly Wiggly that smells like a place where kids go on Thursday night and do all those things that young kids do. . . . I don’t know that that’s conducive to one-stop voting over a ten or in our case now seventeen day period, and no disrespect, Mr. Aceto, I don’t–I don’t believe you, sir.”
Malcolm was referring to Aceto’s claim that he had witnessed “multiple electioneering violations” at the student union, which Aceto argued made the building unsuitable for a polling location. “I do not believe that there are violations of state law that are occurring,” Malcolm continued. “If there are, I’ve never seen them. If you can give them to me today or two years ago, I’ve never seen them, and I don’t believe that’s truthful.”
“There’s pictures that are included in those documents I passed to you,” Aceto responded. “That are from the North Carolina GOP,” Malcolm pointed out.
SBOE member Maja Kricker also agreed that Legends appeared to be an unsuitable location for a polling place. “When I look at the photographs of these buildings,” she said, “and the descriptions, I mean I really have concerns about Legends, the low lighting situation, the running extension cords all over the floor, the flooding danger, the fact that it has no HVAC. And as to the problem of things like buffer violations and electioneering,” which Aceto had raised in regard to the student union, “I can tell you that in my county we have run into these kinds of problems, and we did not change sites because of them; we handled it.”
The SBOE ultimately approved Aceto’s plan to replace the student union with Legends, the music venue, as the polling place—but only with the approval of Appalachian State University.
ASU Chancellor Sheri Everts issued a statement recommending that the county board use the student union, and not Legends, as the polling place. She had previously stated that the “Plemmons Student Union is the only location on campus that satisfies our mutual goals of providing a convenient and safe environment for citizens and volunteers in compliance with statutory requirements for elections.”. The university’s recommendation against Aceto’s plan settled the dispute and allowed the student union to be used as the university’s early voting site in the 2016 election.
Aceto’s First Brazen Attempts at Voter Suppression
Aceto’s attempts to suppress voting in Watauga County in 2016 were not his first efforts. In August 2013, just months after being appointed to the Board of Elections, Aceto and then board member Luke Eggers, brother of County Attorney Four Eggers, proposed consolidating the three precincts in Boone, the county’s largest town, into just one precinct. The plan would have eliminated the polling place located at Appalachian State University’s student union and made the Watauga County Agricultural Center the only polling place in Boone, ahead of the 2014 election.
The plan was widely criticized for making it significantly more difficult for students, as well as other voters, to cast their ballots. For the many ASU students who did not have cars walking to the agricultural center involved a trek without a sidewalk for part of the route. And for voters who could drive there, the single town precinct that would serve almost ten thousand registered voters, boasted a grand total of twenty-eight parking spots.
Following the introduction of this highly controversial plan, three Watauga County residents filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections seeking to remove Aceto and Eggers from the Board of Elections. The complaint alleged “official misconduct, participation in intentional irregularities, unethical actions, and incapacity and incompetency to discharge the duties of their offices.”
In September 2014, a group of citizens sued the State Board of Elections for upholding the county board’s plan, arguing that it “erects unnecessary barriers to voting by and otherwise discriminates against voters aged 18 to 25.” The following month, just weeks before the election, the State Court of Appeals ruled to reinstate the early voting site at Appalachian State University. The Watauga County Board of Elections agreed to use the student union as ASU’s early voting site.
An editorial in The News & Observer called the court’s ruling a “victory” and reminded citizens that Republican attempts to “suppress the Democratic vote” would “cost some people their votes and all taxpayers their dollars as the state pays growing legal fees trying to justify this injustice.”
Aceto, along with Luke Eggers, was praised for his voter suppression efforts at the Watauga County Republicans’ 2014 convention. “These guys are fighting on the front lines,” said Watauga County Republican Chairwoman Anne-Marie Yates.
The Edgecombe County Board of Elections
The Edgecombe County Board of Elections voted to reduce early voting hours in 2016 compared to the hours offered in 2012. The board also voted to cut Sunday voting in 2016, after offering it in 2012. Both Republican members of the board are highly partisan and have advocated for voter suppression policies.
Edgecombe County Board of Elections Chair James C. Proctor
James C. Proctor serves as the chair of the Edgecombe County Board of Elections. Proctor has been heavily involved with the local Republican party, including by serving as the chair of the Edgecombe County Republican Party for twelve years.
Proctor has shared a number of partisan posts on social media, as well as advocated for voter suppression policies. On Facebook Proctor wrote that in 2008, he found out that “the barber I had been going to for ten years” supported Obama. “The day after the election I cancelled my next appointment and I never went back. Found a new one who is a Republican,” Proctor wrote. “I simply refused to put any more of my money in the hands of someone who I knew was a democrat. Don’t regret that decision at all.”
In 2012, Proctor shared an anti-Obama article on Facebook and asserted, “Every voter in the country should be made to read this before they are allowed to vote.” The article, a column published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, proclaimed “The Whopper to End All Whoppers is President Obama’s claim that his tax plan will pay down the country’s staggering $16 trillion national debt,” continuing, “Obama purrs that he’s open to a spending compromise, but we know that’s not the case.”
In addition to suggesting that voters should “be made to read” conservative diatribes “before they are allowed to vote,” Proctor has expressly advocated for voter suppression policies on social media. Proctor commented on a photo posted by a Facebook page called “Obama Makes Me Puke,” which said, “How are voter ID laws racist? The real racists are liberals who think only white people are capable of getting an ID.” Proctor wrote, “But if we require a valid ID that will keep the staffers at the group homes and rest homes from taking senile and mentally handicapped residents in so they can ‘help’ them vote.”
Edgecombe County Board of Elections Member Janet Lewis
Janet Lewis, who serves on the Edgecombe County Board of Elections, is also a highly partisan elections official. In addition to serving as a delegate at the North Carolina GOP District 1 convention, Lewis has shared numerous offensive and partisan posts on social media.
Lewis has shared racially-charged partisan posts on social media. She shared a photo on Facebook that said, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Give a man a welfare check, a free cellphone, food stamps, section 8 housing, a six-pack of beer, a crack pipe, and some Air Jordon’s, and he’ll vote Democrat for the rest of his life.” Lewis commented on the photo, “That’s the truth!!!!!”
Lewis “liked” a photo on Facebook that showed a black man in front of a burning police van, which said, “If looters & rioters get arrested… any government assistance they’re receiving should be cut off immediately!” She also “liked” a photo on Facebook that said, “USA Crime Statistics ~ 2015 . . . Blacks Killed By Police ~~ 1% . . . Blacks Killed By Blacks ~~ 97%.”
Lewis “liked” a photo on Facebook that showed pictures of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin (who was shot and killed by Zimmerman), and Paula Deen—all of whom figured in high-profile controversies that led to important discussions of racism in America—and said, “What if the media’s attention to this is purposefully intended to DISTRACT us from this” and lists a range of right-wing issues such as “IRS Biased Targeting” and “Benghazi Cover-Up.”
Lewis also “liked” a number of Facebook posts that advocated for voter suppression policies. She “liked” a photo on Facebook that pictured a sign that read “Must Show ID to Vote” and said, “This sign should be up . . . in all 50 states,” as well as another that said, ““Like if you think a photo ID should be required to vote.”
Lewis also “liked” photos on Facebook that asserted that illegal immigrants should not be allowed to vote. One such photo was captioned, “Do you agree that illegals should not be allowed to vote or get welfare!” Another showed a picture of masked ISIS members, and read, “Only Americans Should Vote In Our Elections!”
The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections
The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections voted to reduce early voting hours in 2016 compared to the hours offered in 2012. Mecklenburg County’s plan to cut early voting was met with widespread criticism, with “almost all” of the “overflow crowd” at the meeting opposing the reduction in hours. The president of the Charlotte NAACP criticized the plan, stating that, “Trying to take away access to vote is unpatriotic.”
Mecklenburg County Board of Elections Chair Mary Potter Summa
Mary Potter Summa, chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, supported cutting early voting hours in 2016. Summa is a longtime Republican activist who has defended her cuts to early voting with unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud.
I’m “not a fan of early voting,” Summa told the crowd gathered at the Board of Elections meeting where she voted to cut voting hours in Mecklenburg County. She claimed that “the more [early voting] sites we have, the more opportunities exist for violations.” Summa claimed in a letter to the editor that “‘campaign and party officials . . . coerced voters at Mecklenburg precincts into joining them behind the voting screens,” although she could not produce evidence for the alleged voter fraud. The accusation was aptly described as “hearsay” by a writer for the Charlotte Observer.
Summa’s cuts to early voting negatively affected minority voters in the county. Mark Sigmon, counsel for the Democratic member of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, noted at the September 2016 State Board of Elections hearing on early voting plans that, “Early voting is especially popular in Mecklenburg. In 2012 well over half of the voters used it. Most importantly for today, it’s particularly popular among African Americans.”
Summa is a Republican activist who, in 1992, was awarded the annual Homemaker Award by the Eagle Forum, the right-wing organization founded by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. The Eagle Forum praised Summa as “an outstanding example of a successful lawyer who put her legal career ‘on hold’ in order to become a fulltime mother to her children,” and noted that she is “known for her active role in the development and writing of the Republican Party Platforms of 1988 and 1992.”
A former aide to Republican Senators Jesse Helms and John East, Summa was pictured on the front page of the New York Times because of her role chairing the GOP “platform subcommittee that called for a ban on abortion.” In 1996, conservative presidential candidate Pat Buchanan noted, “More than any other delegate on the 1992 Republican platform committee, Mary Summa was responsible for preserving the pro-life plank.”
The Craven County Board of Elections
The Republican-majority Craven County Board of Elections introduced an early voting plan in 2016 that eliminated Sunday voting, even though they had offered it during the 2012 presidential election. At the September 2016 State Board of Elections hearing on early voting plans, the director of the county board admitted that they did not consider the impact of cutting Sunday voting on minority voters, even though African American voters disproportionately took advantage of Sunday voting in 2012.
Meloni Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, told the SBOE, “As far as Sunday, the majority that did turn out on those two Sundays [in 2012] were African American.” When asked if she thought cutting Sunday voting would have a direct impact on those voters, Wray responded, “Well, the first–well, number one, I don’t distinguish what–I do not personally distinguish, you know, as far as races. I believe everyone is equal in that aspect, but we did offer four hours. I’m not opposed to Sunday voting. Our board did not get into a discussion of alternate plans.” She continued, “I felt for a county our size 548 hours already was an extremely generous amount of hours being offered, and then we still went above that when we matched 560 and went above that as well in adding the additional sites. I feel that we are covered not offering Sunday voting.” When asked point-blank if she considered diversity as a factor when considering cutting Sunday voting, Wray responded, “No. I did not look at diversity, no, sir.”
SBOE member Joshua Malcolm said on Craven County’s plan to cut Sunday voting, “I can’t support reducing what has clearly been demonstrated to be a significant number of voters, diversity voters, that have voted in Craven County before. It is not statistically and financially burdensome upon the taxpayers in Craven to allow Sunday voting. I think it’s reasonable, and it’s measured, and it’s not over the top.”
The Bertie County Board of Elections
The Bertie County Board of Elections approved a plan that slashed early voting hours almost in half, cutting them from 218.5 in 2012, down to 111 in 2016.
Bertie County Board of Elections Chair Carol Woodard
Carol Woodard serves as the Republican chair of the Bertie County Board of Elections. She has posted on social media advocating for increasing restrictions to voting and demonstrated her partisan motivations for supporting voter suppression policies.
In August 2016, Woodard shared a viral image on Facebook that suggested that Republicans supported voter ID laws in order to win elections. The photo was captioned, “Ever Wonder Why Republicans Want Voter ID?” with the text “Obama won in every state that did not require a Photo ID and lost in every state that did require a Photo ID in order to vote.” The photo included a list of alleged statistics about voter fraud, which suggested that widespread voter fraud helped reelect President Obama in 2012 –claims that PolitiFact.com ranked as “Pants on Fire” after investigation, with at least one of the statistics in the viral image being “completely made up.” Despite the inaccuracy of the claims about voter fraud, Woodard’s post appears to reveal her partisan motivations for supporting voter suppression policies.
The Cumberland County Board of Elections
The Cumberland County Board of Elections voted to cut Sunday voting in 2016, after offering it in 2012. However, the county will offer it in 2016 after the North Carolina Board of Elections voted to retain Sunday voting, with ten locations offering one day of it in Cumberland County.
Cumberland County Board of Elections Member Robert Kevin Hight
The most vocal opponent of the state board of election’s decision to reinstate Sunday voting in 2016 was Kevin Hight, a Republican member of the Cumberland County Board of Elections. Hight suggested that there were partisan motivations behind advocating for Sunday voting because it had not been offered in every election, despite the fact that the county had offered it in the previous two presidential elections.
“I just don’t care for Sunday voting,” Hight told the State Board of Elections at their September 2016 hearing on early voting plans. He “rais[ed] his voice and pound[ed] the lectern,” asserting, “If Sunday voting is the panacea that we’ve been told it is, then we need to have it every single election, not just when Democrats want it.” Hight claimed to not understand “why we have to throw it [Sunday voting] in for political reasons.”
Hight’s intense opposition to the state board’s decision to offer just one day of Sunday voting in Cumberland County in the 2016 presidential election may be explained by his far-right and racially charged opinions, demonstrated by his social media use.
Hight has shared and liked numerous right-wing and racially charged posts on social media, including some that make false claims about voter fraud and advocate for voter suppression policies. He shared an article on Facebook in 2013 from the Civitas Institute, the conservative group largely funded by multimillionaire and prolific Republican donor Art Pope. The article claimed that “one case” showed “how easy it is to commit voter fraud in North Carolina,” despite the fact that widespread voter fraud has been proven to be almost nonexistent in North Carolina, as well as throughout the country. Hight commented on the article, “To all my dear friends who think the North Carolina General Assembly is unfairly picking out college students to ‘disenfranchise’ them please read this article. Probably not as interesting as the talking points being distributed by the Democratic Party but then again facts really [sic] are.”
Hight has “liked” a series of racially charged posts on Facebook, including some that accuse black officials of being racists. Hight “liked” a photo of members of the Congressional Black Caucus that read, “Is it Racist to have a ‘Black Caucus’ in Congress? Yes = Like,” as well as another that showed President Barack Obama with Reverend Al Sharpton that said, “Is Barack Obama a Racist? Agree = Like.”
He also “liked” a post that showed side-by-side photos of Paula Deen and Barack Obama indicating Deen “said a bad word 27 years ago” and is “HATED by the media” (in reference to reports that Deen made racist comments, including using the N-word and saying she wanted to hire black waiters to dress as “slaves” for a theme party); and that Obama is “destroying America” and is “LOVED by the media.” Hight also “liked” a photo on Facebook that showed a group of black men, one of whom is holding a gun, that read, “We need less gun control and more gang control.”
Hight has also “liked” several Facebook photos that voiced support for requiring photo ID in order to vote. One said, “Like if you think a photo ID should be required to vote!” while another said “There is nothing wrong with having to show an ID to vote LIKE if you AGREE!”
The Duplin County Board of Elections
The Republican-majority Duplin County Board of Elections proposed an early voting plan that offered fewer hours than legally required by state law. The board has introduced other voter suppression policies, and has also faced charges of racially motivated discrimination.
Duplin County Board of Elections Chair Derl Walker
Republican Derl Walker first served on the Duplin County Board of Elections in the 1970s. He served on the Duplin County Commission in the 1990s and returned to the board of elections, where he currently serves as the chairman.
Partisan and Inadequate 2016 Early Voting Plan
Walker, with Johnnye Boyette, the other Republican member of the Duplin County Board of Elections, proposed an early voting plan for the 2016 election that The Duplin Times described as representing “partisan interests.” The paper called the competing plan proposed by Democratic board member Angela Mainor, “clearly the most friendly to the convenience of county voters” and “much more voter friendly.”
Walker’s plan called for the county’s early voting site to be open for only ninety hours of early voting, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. each of the fifteen early voting days. The Duplin Times wrote of the plan, “Never in the history of early voting in the county has such a limited schedule been employed. That leaves no provisions, except for Saturdays, for most people who work regular daytime jobs to vote.”
When the State Board of Elections ruled on the competing plans at their September 2016 meeting, the board quickly pointed out that the Republican-majority plan did not meet the statutory requirements for early voting by offering only ninety hours; it was ten short of the required one hundred hours. Walker defended his plan to the SBOE by saying, “Duplin County is basically a rural county. It’s made up basically of rural people, and they work early and late, and the biggest group, I would say, that’s in the county is farmers and those that help farmers. And the farmers get started in the morning. They usually do what they need to do, and then when they get on the combines to start harvesting, they don’t generally get off to go and vote. It’s usually in the morning.”
As SBOE member Joshua Malcolm noted while reviewing the two proposed plans, “The truth of the matter is we only have one lawful plan before us right now.” And that plan was not Walker’s.
Walker’s Voter Suppression Efforts Prior to 2016
Walker had implemented voter suppression policies in Duplin County prior to this year’s efforts. Before the May 2014 primary election, Walker announced that poll workers would be “preparing” voters for the state’s future voter ID requirements by asking to see their photo IDs at the polls, even though H.B. 589’s voter ID provisions wouldn’t go into effect until 2016. Walker explained that if voters did not have an ID, “they sign a statement to the fact that they don’t, and then they are told how they can get one.” Requiring voters to attest, in writing, to the fact that they do not have a photo ID before they vote—before any voter ID law was in effect in North Carolina—appears to be a voter intimidation tactic, even if Walker ordered the policy under the guise of education.
Walker has made meritless claims about voter fraud even before his current stint on the Board of Elections. As county commissioner in 1996, Walker called for an investigation of the Duplin County Board of Elections, whose chairman at that time was a Democrat, accusing the board “of having unlocked ballot boxes and illegally helping voters cast ballots.” The State Board of Elections refused to even hold a hearing on the issue, because there was no evidence of such malfeasance, aside from unfounded accusations from Walker and his supporters. Walker called the SBOE’s decision “the same old garbage.”
Racially Charged Bullying
Walker was at the center of racially charged controversy on the Duplin County Board of Elections, when he was accused of not considering two qualified employees for the open position of board director because of their race. Ultimately the longtime employees, both of whom were African American women, left their jobs at the Board of Elections, likely because of the hostile environment created and fostered by Walker.
When the Board of Elections looked to hire a director in 2014, Walker voted to start looking at applicants from outside the board. Democratic board member Angela Mainor advocated for appointing one of two longtime Board of Elections employees: Interim Director Pat Marable-Williams, with fourteen years of experience, or Interim Deputy Director Chiquitta Lesene, with ten years of experience. Mainor accused Walker of overlooking the employees, who were both African American, because of their race. “If [Marable-Williams] had been a white male or white female and if [Lesene] would have been a white male or white female, they would have already been appointed,” Mainor argued.
Members of the public echoed Mainor’s concerns about racial discrimination in the board’s hiring process. “As far as the public is concerned we see that as a problem,” said Rebecca Judge, a resident attending the meeting, on why the deputy director wasn’t appointed to the vacant position. “This is my opinion, and it is the opinion of many people in the community, that had the deputy director been a white male or a white person period that there would not have been a question.
After the search process, Walker and the Republican-majority board instead named Edward Clifton Hudson, a white man, to be director of the board of elections. Hudson worked as a supervisor at a pickle factory and had no relevant elections experience. Mainor, who nominated Marable-Williams because of her fourteen years of experience with the Board of Elections, argued that Hudson, “has no experience whatsoever but a shipping person from Mt. Olive Pickle,” and continued, “That is the only experience he has.”
In an “unusual move,” the executive director of the State Board of Elections refused to confirm Hudson as director of the Duplin County Board of Elections in July 2014, because of the controversy surrounding his selection. Kim Strach, executive director of the SBOE, sent a letter to the county board, noting, “Unfortunately, the process by which your Board selected its nominee raises grave concerns that I cannot ignore.”
In September 2014, Interim Deputy Director Chiquitta Lesene resigned from her position at the Duplin County Board of Elections. After the November 2014 election, Walker blamed Interim Board of Elections Director Pat Marable-Williams, whom he had refused to promote under dubious circumstances, for allegedly mailing out sixteen absentee ballots with more than one voting form attached to them.
“How in the world a person who has worked for the county and with the Board for 15 years allows this to happen is beyond me,” Walker railed against Marable-Williams at the public meeting. Walker even seemed to accuse her of deliberately committing a crime, asking, “How many other nursing facilities have received them?” He continued, “how many individuals have received duplicate ballots? And willfully, which we can’t prove, violating some of the election laws in dealing with absentee ballots rises to the level of a criminal offense.”
At some point during the meeting, where Walker railed against Marable-Williams, the county attorney “asked Walker to stop because she felt it was getting beyond what was allowed in public comments.” Marable-Williams stated at the meeting, which multiple employees walked out on, “I have done a great job and I am honest,” and continued, “At this point, my character is being scarred by someone who obviously has something against me. I just have to put that out there. A lot of these things could have been asked. He saw problems but I was never asked. I was just accused at a meeting.” Marable-Williams later was transferred out of the Board of Elections to another county department at her request. Despite the SBOE never finding it necessary to investigate Walker’s complaints, he continued to assault Marable-Williams’ character after she transferred departments, saying he was concerned about her dealing with “confidential documents.”
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections
“Within hours” of Governor McCrory signing H.B. 589, the GOP-controlled local election board in Pasquotank County went to work to take away the electoral rights of students at a local, historically black university. In August 2015, the Pasquotank County Board of Elections ruled an on-campus address could not be “used to establish local residency” and “barred” a student at the HBCU Elizabeth City State University from running for city council. That student, Montravias King, was a senior at Elizabeth City State who had filed “to run for a seat on the city council representing the ward that includes the campus.” King had been “registered to vote in the county since coming to the college in 2009,” and said he planned “to stay after he graduates.” Pete Gilbert, the head of the Pasquotank County GOP, was the individual who had challenged King’s residency. Following the ruling in Gilbert’s favor by the board controlled by his party, King told the Associated Press that he planned to “challenge the voter registrations of more students at the historically black university ahead of upcoming elections,” and urged his “counterparts living in college towns across the state to do the same.”
The Guilford County Board of Elections
Don Wendelken is one of the GOP members of the Guilford County Board of Elections. In 2014, Wendelken, with the other Republican on the board, voted to “eliminate voting on Sunday” in Guilford County. He has posted a number of offensive images on social media. In July 2015, Wendelken suggested that Planned Parenthood “killed 90,000 black babies last year.” In March 2016, he posted a photo of a black family all lying on one mattress with the caption “poor people have been voting Democrat for fifty years and they’re still poor.” In March 2016, he posted that transgender people were “confused,” and that people should “SAY NO TO PAYPAL” as he did when he closed his account, because PayPal supported allowing transgender people to “use any bathroom they feel like.”
Voter Suppression Groups and Activists in North Carolina
Art Pope – Conservative Funder of Voter Suppression Groups
Art Pope is the main funding source for a number of voter suppression groups throughout North Carolina that he established, including Americans for Prosperity–North Carolina, the John Locke Foundation, and the Civitas Institute. Pope, a multi-millionaire GOP donor, has contributed “more than $55 million” via his family foundation to build a “robust network of conservative think tanks and advocacy groups” in order to create a “state version of what his friends Charles and David Koch have helped create on a national level.” Pope, who was the “second-largest institutional funder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation,” served as one of the organization’s national directors, and previously served as a board member to “its predecessor, Citizens for a Sound Economy.” He founded the North Carolina state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which AFP leadership considered a “model” state. The national Americans for Prosperity is an “issue advocacy organization with ties to the Tea Party movement.”
In 1990, Pope founded the John Locke Foundation, a 501(c)3 foundation that pushes conservative policy as “an answer” to the “liberal establishment.” “About eighty per cent [sic]” of the John Locke Foundation’s funding “has come from the Pope family foundation.” In 2005, Art Pope set up the Civitas Institute, a “conservative policy and polling” 501(c)3 non-profit group to offer the “intellectual underpinning” for “regulatory and voting changes.” The Civitas Institute has a “near-total reliance” on Pope, getting “more than ninety-seven per cent [sic]” of its funding from the Pope family foundation. North Carolina Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt explained the John Locke and Civitas Foundations “put out road maps for how to change everything, and the legislature pretty much followed the script.”
In North Carolina, Pope “has created a singular influence machine that, according to critics, blurs the lines between tax-deductible philanthropy and corporate-funded partisan advocacy.” He is the key Republican contributor in the state, and has been compensated for his contributions with an appointment to a crucial budget position and the passage of major planks of his think tanks’ agenda.
In the 2010 election, “accounts linked to Pope” spent a total of $2.2 million in North Carolina, which totaled “three-quarters of the spending by independent groups” in the state. In 2012, Pope, “his family, and his affiliated groups” spent over $2 million to help Republicans “win supermajorities in both chambers and [put] a Republican in the executive mansion.” Following Gov. McCrory’s win, he announced he would be appointing major donor Pope as his “head of budget policy,” to be “in charge of crafting the executive branch’s budget proposal,” and work with “legislative leaders on tax reform.” In 2013, the GOP leaders whom Pope helped elect “approved a torrent of conservative measures that resembled ideas touted by his think tanks,” including “bills that cut unemployment benefits, blocked the expansion of Medicaid, restricted access to abortions and ushered in new restrictions on voting.”
The Civitas Institute was created in 2005 by Pope as a “conservative policy and polling” 501(c)3 non-profit group offering an “intellectual underpinning” on “regulatory and voting changes.” It has a “near-total reliance” on Pope, getting “more than ninety-seven per cent [sic]” of its funding from the Pope family foundation.
The organization is an integral piece to the voter suppression movement in North Carolina. Starting in 2008, the organization, along with the John Locke Foundation “published more than 50 articles, op-eds and blog posts warning of voter fraud and using the alleged threat to call for a strict photo ID law, an end to same-day registration, and a shorter early voting period.” During committee discussion on H.B. 589, Francis De Luca, the president of the Civitas Institute, testified in favor of the bill, claiming it was necessary for North Carolina to “update” its “ballot protection.” In 2015, in the face of a lawsuit from civil rights groups and the Justice Department, when the GOP walked back some of the radical suppression provisions in H.B. 589, Civitas Institute analyst Susan Myrick publically blasted the legislature’s change, saying it “guts” and “demolishes” the law.
In 2015, Civitas Institute analyst Susan Myrick, a frequent speaker at Tea Party events, pushed a report from the group purporting to uncover a left-wing conspiracy “as liberal as a pink Prius.” The report declared that there was a “nefarious underworld” of 140 interwoven liberal groups in North Carolina. In 2013, Myrick attended the Pasquotank County Board of Elections hearing when it ruled an on-campus address at local HBCU Elizabeth City State University could not be “used to establish local residency.” The Institute for Southern Studies wrote that at the hearing, Myrick was sitting beside Pete Gilbert, the head of the Pasquotank County GOP, which “raised questions” about Civitas and Pope’s involvement. In 2015, Myrick retweeted an insulting tweet claiming Caitlyn Jenner was experiencing “sex change regret” and was considering a “de-transition back into a man” with the words “Psst. He always was Bruce Jenner.”
Bob Luebke, a Civitas researcher, wrote that “the poor in America live better than the picture most liberals like to paint,” because a majority “have refrigerators, cable television, microwaves, and shelter.” Luebke added that the media’s “obsession with pervasive homelessness also appears to be a myth.”
John Locke Foundation
The John Locke Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization with deep conservative and Tea Party ties that was founded by Art Pope in 1990. “About eighty per cent” of the group’s funding “has come from the Pope family foundation.” The organization’s president, John Hood, said the foundation was created because the conservatives thought “the liberals had the universities,” so they started the the John Locke Foundation as “an answer” to the “liberal establishment.” During President Obama’s first term, the John Locke Foundation sent multiple representatives to speak at Tea Party rallies and functions throughout the state, including a Surry County Tea Party Patriots meeting, a Burke County Tea Party meeting, and a Stanley County Tea Party rally on the steps of the county courthouse. Even Hood himself spoke at a Tea Party rally at Wake Forest, imploring the Tea Party members that they “must elect conservatives to stop taxpayers’ money from being used for entitlement programs.”
The foundation is an integral organization within the voter suppression movement. Starting in 2008, the foundation, along with the Civitas Institute, “published more than 50 articles, op-eds, and blog posts warning of voter fraud and using the alleged threat to call for a strict photo ID law, an end to same-day registration, and a shorter early voting period.” In 2013, Hood mounted a vigorous defense of H.B. 589, including an op-ed claiming the voter ID laws were not racially-targeted “poll taxes and do not infringe on the right to vote.” In 2015, he wrote an op-ed in the Winston-Salem Journal attacking liberals for “getting it wrong” on the legislation, claiming that the law had not suppressed the black turnout. Hood conveniently neglected to mention that H.B. 589’s voter ID requirement was not enforced in 2014, and was only “set to take effect in 2016.” Hood also believes that poverty exists largely because of “self-destructive behavior” but the “extent of true poverty in North Carolina and around the country is woefully overestimated.”
In March 2012, Tara Servatius, a blogger on the foundation’s “Meck Deck” website, posted a racist and lewd image of President Obama “Photoshopped onto an African-American man wearing high heels and chains” with “a bucket of fried chicken.” The image, hosted on the think tank’s servers, came attached to a story about how President Obama had taken a stance “on North Carolina’s proposed marriage amendment” to “boost his chances of winning North Carolina in November.” Servatius resigned as a result of the racist photo, while Hood apologized for what he called an “extremely inappropriate” photo.
North Carolina Chapter of Americans for Prosperity
Pope founded the North Carolina state chapter of Americans for Prosperity. The national Americans for Prosperity, founded and funded by “David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch,” is an “conservative issue advocacy organization with ties to the Tea Party movement.”
The North Carolina chapter was formerly led by Dallas Woodhouse, who “rails against tax increases for the well-off,” because “in some parts of the country couples earning two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year are just middle class.” In 2013, Woodhouse left AFP-NC to “pursue business opportunities,” although he later returned to GOP politics as the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party. In March 2016, Hasan Harnett, the state GOP’s first African American chairman, accused Woodhouse of “cutting off his email and working around him.” Harnett wondered if Woodhouse was putting him through “some form of ritual or hazing” for being “the first black Chairman of the NCGOP State Party,” and asked Woodhouse, “Am I not white enough for you?”
After Woodhouse left Pope’s Americans for Prosperity–North Carolina, he led Carolina Rising, an IRS-denoted “social welfare” non-profit that spent millions trying to elect Republican Thom Tillis to the U.S. Senate. Carolina Rising raised “99 percent of its money from one source and spent 97 percent of that—$4.6 million—on TV ads supporting Republican Thom Tillis in his successful campaign for the U.S. Senate.” An IRS-designated social welfare group “cannot spend more than half of its money on political activities.” Not only did Carolina Rising spend well over 50 percent of its money on political activities, on their FEC reports the group described their ad campaign as “pro-Thom Tillis,” and on election night, after a reporter suggested to Woodhouse, “You spent a whole lot of money to get this man elected,” Woodhouse replied, “$4.7 million! […] We did it.” In 2015, campaign finance watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the IRS asking for sanctions against Carolina Rising for the political spending.
Voter Integrity Project
The Voter Integrity Project was founded in 2011 by Jay DeLancy as “an offshoot” of True the Vote, “a national effort that challenges voter registration lists” that “has been criticized by voting rights advocates for intimidating voters.” When the national True the Vote organization became concerned with DeLancy’s “anti-immigrant leanings,” DeLancy broke away from the national organization and founded the Voter Integrity Project. The organization has extensive ties to Tea Party groups. In fact, DeLancy has spoken at multiple Tea Party rallies throughout the state, including in 2013 at the North Carolina Tea Party Coalition’s statewide “Defend Liber-Tea Rally” in Greensboro, where he urged the attendees to “fight for voter ID.” In 2014, the project teamed up with the Asheville Tea Party to challenge the voter registrations of 182 North Carolinians, with DeLancy praising the Asheville Tea Party for its “miraculous working.” Deidre Morrison, the treasurer of the Voter Integrity Project, was a “a Tea Party activist” from Youngsville, who was a member “of both the Patriot Action Network and Tea Party Nation national factions.”
In 2012, after the Voter Integrity Project announced it had identified 27,561 dead people still on the North Carolina voter rolls, the SBOE immediately declared that at least 82 percent of those voters were still alive. In 2014, the Voter Integrity Project asked the SBOE to look into the voting status of immigrants who came to the United States “under a federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” Despite the tens of thousands of voters the project had challenged in North Carolina, in 2016 director DeLancy admitted that only a handful had amounted to anything, with an average of just 0.4 indictments per year in their five years of work.
The Voter Integrity Project supports requiring voters to show a photo ID, and in 2013, “a number of speakers” connected to the project testified at the H.B. 589 hearing that voter fraud was “a more serious problem than authorities think.” DeLancy claimed that “efforts to block or weaken” the voter ID requirements were “part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to pad the voter rolls with non-citizens.”
Judicial Watch is a national “conservative-leaning organization that uses litigation to make its political points.” In 2013, the group waded into the lawsuit civil rights groups and the Justice Department brought against North Carolina over H.B. 589, with a motion in conjunction with Christina Kelley Gallegos-Merrill, a Tea Party-endorsed Republican who lost her bid for Buncombe County Board of Commissioners “by 13 votes.” Judicial Watch and Gallegos-Merrill, who had already unsuccessfully petitioned the “county and state boards of election,” claimed she had lost in 2012 because of “the same-day registration during the early-voting period combined with the lack of a photo ID requirement.” Gallegos-Merrill and Judicial Watch contended that the “transient student population, of motivated, partisan voters” from Warren Wilson College were able to “deceive poll workers about which dorm they supposedly lived in, in order to oppose” Gallegos-Merrill’s candidacy. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina tossed out Gallegos-Merrill and Judicial Watch’s motion, ruling that they had “failed to show that their interests will not be adequately represented by the state defendants.”
Officials at all levels of North Carolina’s government have engaged in what amounts to a long-term assault on voting rights. Voter suppression policies—voter ID requirements, reducing early voting, and other policies that make voting less accessible—disproportionately affect minority voters who should be encouraged to turn out and exercise their constitutional rights to vote.
Despite what some North Carolina officials have expressed, voting is a right, not a privilege. These officials are failing all North Carolina voters when they display partisan and at times racially charged motivations for their suppression efforts while serving in roles intended to impartially administer elections and protect voting rights. These policies do not simply make it more difficult for North Carolinians to vote; they strip constitutional rights from largely minority voters, all for the purpose of partisan, political gain.
 United States of American v. State of North Carolina, 2016 APP 1468 (2016), http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/161468.P.pdf.
 Sari Horwitz, “Trial to Start in Lawsuit over North Carolina’s Voter-ID Law,” Washington Post, January 24, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trial-to-start-over-north-carolinas-voter-id-law/2016/01/24/fac97d20-c1d1-11e5-9443-7074c3645405_story.html.
 Wesley Young, “Cut to Early Voting Advances,” Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, May 12, 2011, http://www.journalnow.com/archives/cut-to-early-voting-advances/article_2769d24c-ab9e-551f-9c9f-e14322d44fab.html.
 Maya Rhodan, “Lawsuits Take Aim at North Carolina’s Voting Law,” Time online, August 13, 2013, http://nation.time.com/2013/08/13/lawsuits-take-aim-at-north-carolinas-voting-law/.
 Jim Morrill, “N. C. House Atcs to Shorten Schedule for Early Voting,” Charlotte Observer, May 13, 2011.
 Michael Wines and Alan Blinder, “Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID Requirement,” New York Times, July 29, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/30/us/federal-appeals-court-strikes-down-north-carolina-voter-id-provision.html.
 Reid Wilson, “Report: Voter ID Laws Reduce Turnout More among African American and Younger Voters,” Washington Post, October 9, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/10/09/report-voter-id-laws-reduce-turnout-more-among-african-american-and-younger-voters/.
 Chris Kardish, “A Hard Right: How North Carolina Turned So Red So Fast,” Governing 27, no. 10 (July 2014): 32-39, http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-north-carolina-southern-progressivism.html.
 Editorial Board, (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, January 30, 2014, “GOP legislators should release documents behind voter ID law.”
 Editorial Board, “The Daily Reflector of Greenville (NC) on Voter ID Legislation,” in “North Carolina Editorial Roundup,” Associated Press, January 15, 2013, http://racing.ap.org/mashpee/content/north-carolina-editorial-roundup.
 Pete Williams, “North Carolina Asks Supreme Court to Block Voter ID Ruling,” NBC News, August 16, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/north-carolina-asks-supreme-court-block-voter-id-ruling-n631776; and Anne Blythe, “Courts Are Roadblocks to NC Lawmakers’ Right Turn,” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, August 20, 2016, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article96889712.html.
 “Opinion: Voting Laws Like N.C.’s Hurt, Don’t Help Voters,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, October 21, 2013, https://web.archive.org/web/20131026041036/http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/21/4405065/voting-laws-like-ncs-hurt-dont.html#.V-GzypMrLUI.
 Bob Hall, “New Law Makes It Harder to Vote,” Star News Online, October 11, 2013, http://www.starnewsonline.com/opinion/20131011/bob-hall—-new-law-makes-it-harder-to-vote.
 William Wan, “Inside the Republican Creation of the North Carolina Voting Bill Dubbed the ‘Monster’ Law,” Washington Post, September 2, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/inside-the-republican-creation-of-the-north-carolina-voting-bill-dubbed-the-monster-law/2016/09/01/79162398-6adf-11e6-8225-fbb8a6fc65bc_story.html; and “Opinion: Voting Laws Like N.C.’s Hurt, Don’t Help Voters,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, October 21, 2013, https://web.archive.org/web/20131026041036/http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/21/4405065/voting-laws-like-ncs-hurt-dont.html#.V-GzypMrLUI.
 Mark Binker, “Q&A: Changes to NC Election Laws,” WRAL.com, August 21, 2013, http://www.wral.com/election-changes-coming-in-2014-2016/12750290/.
 John Frank, “North Carolina Republicans Complete ‘Breathtaking’ Changes in State Laws,” Seattle (WA) Times, July 28, 2013, http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/north-carolina-republicans-complete-lsquobreathtakingrsquo-changes-in-state-laws/; and Keith Gunnar Bentele and Erin O’Brien, “Jim Crow 2.0?: Why States Consider and Adopt Restrictive Voter Access Policies,” University of Massachusetts Boston, Sociology Faculty Publication Series, Paper 11, (Pre-published version, December 2013), http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=sociology_faculty_pubs.
 Tom Foreman, Jr., “NC Governor Signs Sweeping Voter Reforms into Law,” U.S. News and World Report online, August 12, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2013/08/12/nc-governor-signs-sweeping-voter-reforms-into-law.
 John Murawski and John Frank, “Colin Powell Slams NC’s New Voting Law in Speech,” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, August 22, 2013, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article24754807.html.
 Editorial Board, “Voting Rights, Voting Wrongs,” Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, April 6, 2013.
 Editorial Board, “Feds Right on Voter Suppression Lawsuit,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, October 1, 2013, http://www.ncspin.com/feds-right-on-voter-suppression-lawsuit/.
 Michael Hewlett, “Ex-College Democrats President: N.C. Election Law Intimidated College Students,” Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, July 20, 2015, http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/ex-college-democrats-president-n-c-election-law-intimidated-college/article_4ae0659e-2f0b-11e5-8403-a3cc273a1ec7.html.
 Jim Morrill, “Voter ID Laws Take Hold in Other States,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, May 23, 2011, http://thevotingnews.com/voter-id-laws-and-limits-on-early-take-hold-in-many-states-the-charlotte-observer/.
 Editorial, “Voting Rights, Voting Wrongs.”
 Editorial, The Daily Reflector of Greenville (NC) on Voter ID Legislation. “Tar Heel View: On voter ID legislation” as printed in the Richmond County Daily Journal, January 16, 2013.
 Horwitz, “Trial to Start;” and Abby Blythe, “NAACP adds churches, others to NC elections lawsuit,” Raleigh (NC) News & Observer, November 14, 2013.
 The United States Department of Justice, “Justice Department to File Lawsuit Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discriminatory Changes to Voting Law,” news release, September 30, 2013, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-file-lawsuit-against-state-north-carolina-stop-discriminatory-changes.
 Michael Hewlett, “N.C. Voting Law Opponents File for Preliminary Injunction: State Asks Lawsuits Be Thrown Out,” Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, May 20, 2014, http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/n-c-voting-law-opponents-file-for-preliminary-injunction-state/article_d07e9924-e037-11e3-b193-0017a43b2370.html.
 Barry Smith, “McCrory Calls Federal Election Lawsuit ‘In The Fringes,’” (Raleigh, NC) Carolina Journal, October 1, 2013, https://www.carolinajournal.com/news-article/mccrory-calls-federal-election-lawsuit-in-the-fringes/; and Jon Ostendorff, “N.C. voting rights advocates applaud federal lawsuit,” USA Today, October 1, 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/01/nc-voting-rights-advocates-federal-lawsuit/2903177/
 Gary D. Robertson, “Judge Says NC Lawmakers Can’t Ignore Subpoenas,” Washington (DC) Times, May 15, 2014, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/15/judge-says-nc-lawmakers-cant-ignore-subpoenas/.
 Gary D. Robertson, “Court Tries to Move NC Election Lawsuits Along,” Washington (DC) Times, February 21, 2014, http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/21/nc-election-overhaul-lawsuits-returns-to-court/.
 Editorial Board, “GOP Legislators Should Release Documents Behind Voter ID law,” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, January 30, 2014, as printed in the Star News of Wilmington, NC, February 1, 2014.
 Gary D. Robertson, “Changes to NC Voter ID Rankle Some, but Could Preserve Law,” Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, June 28, 2015, http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2015/06/28/changes-nc-voter-rankle-preserve-law/29425343/.
 Mark Barrett, “McGrady, Whitmire Comments Come Up in Voter ID Trial,” Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, February 4, 2016, http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/02/04/mcgrady-whitmire-comments-come-up-voter-id-trial/79815952/.
 Robertson, “Changes to NC Voter ID Rankle;” and Anne Blythe and Colin Campbell, “NC Legislature Votes to Soften Voter ID Requirement,” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, June 18, 2015, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article24877873.html.
 Wines and Blinder, “Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down.”
 Ibid.; and Sarah Childress, “Court: North Carolina Voter ID Law Targeted Black Voters,” PBS Frontline, July 29, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/court-north-carolina-voter-id-law-targeted-black-voters/.
 Wines and Blinder, “Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down.”
 Childress, “Court: North Carolina Voter ID Law Targeted.”
 Wines and Blinder, “Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down.”
 Editorial Board, “GOP Legislators Should Release Documents Behind Voter ID Law,” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, January 30, 2014.
 Editorial Board, “NC Judge Halts a GOP Effort to Stymie Student Vote,” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, October 16, 2014, http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article10098482.html.
 “Thursday at the North Carolina General Assembly,” Associated Press, March 6, 2009.
 “GOP Lawmakers File Voter ID Bill,” WNCN.com, April 13, 2013.
 Jim Morrill, “2014 GOP Senate Field Sees Hagan’s Seat as a Top 2014 Target,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, June 2, 2013; and Wan, “Inside the Republican Creation.”
 Patrick Phillippi, “Voting And Gun Law Changes On The Fast Track,” WFMY News 2, June 30, 2013, http://archive.digtriad.com/news/article/289604/57/Voting-And-Gun-Law-Changes-On-The-Fast-Track-.
 Laura Leslie, “Tillis: Fraud ‘Not the Primary Reason’ for Voter ID Push,” WRAL.com, March 17, 2013, http://www.wral.com/tillis-actual-voter-fraud-not-the-primary-reason-for-voter-id-push-/12231514/.
 Gary D. Robertson, “More Debate Expected on Voter ID Bill in NC,” Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail, June 12, 2011, http://www.wvgazettemail.com/ap/ApWorld/201106120581.
 Jim Morrill, “Lawsuits Expected over Major NC Voting Changes,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, August 4, 2013, https://web.archive.org/web/20130824150425/http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/08/04/4211520/lawsuits-expected-over-major-nc.html.
 Caroline Curran, “Voter Information Verification Act Filed in State House,” Port City (Wilmington, NC) Daily, April 5, 2013, http://portcitydaily.com/2013/04/05/gop-attempts-another-round-at-voter-id-legislation/.
 Gary D. Robertson, “NC Early-Voting Time Reduced in House Proposal,” RealClearPolitics.com, May 11, 2011, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/ap/politics/2011/May/11/nc_early_voting_time_reduced_in_house_proposal.html.
 Mark Binker, “House Backs Bill on Early Voting,” (Greensboro, NC) News & Record, May 13, 2011.
 Jim Morrill, “N.C. House Acts to Shorten Schedule for Early Voting,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, May 13, 2011.
 Binker, “House Backs Bill.”
 J. Brian Ewing, “Pushy Campaigning Reported at Polls,” (Greensboro, NC) News & Record, October 26, 2010.
 Editorial Board, “Let’s Vote,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, May 1, 2011.
 Jim Morrill, “GOP Bill Would Trim Early Voting by a Week,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, April 27, 2011.
 Wines and Blinder, “Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down.”
 Editorial, “Let’s Vote.”
 Morrill, “GOP Bill Would Trim Early Voting.”
 Editorial Board, “Are Republicans Wary of Large Voter Turnout?,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, April 29, 2011.
 Editorial, “Voting Rights, Voting Wrongs.”
 Gary D. Robertson, “Group: NC Restrictions Deny Hundreds of Votes,” Washington (DC) Times, September 10, 2014, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/10/group-nc-restrictions-deny-hundreds-of-votes/; and Editorial Board, “Senseless Changes,” (Greensboro, NC) News & Record, July 25, 2013, http://www.greensboro.com/opinion/n_and_r_editorials/senseless-changes/article_7b6e0bcc-f4a1-11e2-9cb4-0019bb30f31a.html .
 Michael Gordon, “Voting fight: Is it race or is it politics,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, October 19, 2013, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article24757594.html; and Gary D. Robertson, “Judge Refuses to halt voter ID requirement in March election,” Associated Press, January 16, 2016, http://www.blueridgenow.com/news/20160116/judge-refuses-to-halt-voter-id-requirement-in-march-election.
 Erik Spanberg, “NC Sen. Bob Rucho Stands by ‘Nazis’ Remark,” Charlotte (NC) Business Journal, December 17, 2013, http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/queen_city_agenda/2013/12/mecklenburg-gop-senator-bob-rucho-stands-by-nazis.html.
 Jim Morrill, “Rucho Defends Controversial Tweet,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, December 16, 2013.
 Spanberg, “NC Sen. Bob Rucho Stands by ‘Nazis’ Remark.”
 Gary D. Robertson, “NC GOP Re-election Campaigns Highlight Voter ID Law,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, September 21, 2014, http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article9194009.html.
 Travis Fain, “NCGA Signs Off on Voting Bill,” (Greensboro, NC) News & Record, July 25, 2013.
 Patrick Gannon, “Number of Hours for Early Voting in NC Slips Slightly; Election 2014,” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, April 23, 2014.
 Gary D. Robertson, “Any NC Voter ID Law Will Face Legal, GOP Obstacles,” Associated Press State and Local Wire, January 13, 2013.
 Sue Book, “Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Decision Likely to Impact Craven,” New Bern (NC) Sun-Journal, June 29, 2013, http://www.newbernsj.com/20130629/supreme-courts-voting-rights-decision-likely-to-impact-craven/306299933.
 Editorial Board, “We Don’t Buy Affi-David Lewis Explanation on the Photo ID,” Beaufort (Washington, NC) Examiner, June 22, 2015, http://www.beaufortobserver.net/Articles-NEWS-and-COMMENTARY-c-2015-06-22-278524.112112-We-dont-buy-AffiDavid-Lewis-explanation-on-the-photo-ID.html.
 Kristen Hunter, “Email from House Representative Calls NAACP ‘Racists,’” WNCT CBS-9, February 2, 2013.
 Colin Campbell, “NC Legislator Posts Image Calling Obama ‘Islamic Son of a Bitch,’” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, September 14, 2015.
 Michael Speciale Facebook page, status of August 10, 2016 accessed August 10, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/michael.speciale.nc/posts/10210320913645773.
 Michael Speciale Facebook page, status of August 8, 2016 (11:05 a.m.), accessed September 22, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/michael.speciale.nc/posts/10210305042649008; and Amanda Shea, “Bad News For Hillary After What Her ‘Handler’ Is Caught Hiding In His Hand,” Mad World News, August 8, 2016, http://madworldnews.com/hillary-clinton-handler-hand/.
 Michael Speciale Facebook page, status of July 31, 2016 (9:18 a.m.), accessed September 22, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/michael.speciale.nc/posts/10210237602323042; and Michael Speciale Facebook page, status of July 30, 2016, accessed August 10, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/michael.speciale.nc/posts/10210229067949688.
 Harry Warren Facebook page, status as of June 15, 2010 (10:10 p.m.), accessed September 22, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/harry.warren.792/posts/130760263619341; and Harry Warren Facebook page, status as of August 17, 2011 (4:22 p.m.), accessed September 22, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/harry.warren.792/posts/2250259492529.
 Harry Warren Facebook page, status of October 21, 2010 (5:11 a.m.), accessed September 22, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/harry.warren.792/posts/168734693139194.
 Editorial, “Let’s Vote.”
 Gary D. Robertson, “NC GOP Lawmakers Determined to Pass Voter ID Bill: Civil Liberties Advocates Wary of Measure,” Charlotte (NC) Post, January 31, 2011, http://www.thecharlottepost.com/index.php?src=news&submenu=News&srctype=detail&category=News&refno=3325.
 Karen Welsh, “General Assembly Looks for Creative Answer for Voter ID Veto,” (Raleigh, NC) Carolina Journal, August 25, 2011, https://www.carolinajournal.com/news-article/general-assembly-looks-for-creative-answer-for-voter-id-veto/.
 Laura Leslie, “Voter ID Veto Stands, for Now,” WRAL.com, July 27, 2011, http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/blogpost/9912762/ and Gary D. Robertson, “NC governor veto to block voter ID mandate remains,” The Associated Press State & Local Wire, July 27, 2011.
 Anna Douglas, “In Voter ID Case, GOP Leader Says ‘Daily Show’ Source a ‘Pain in the …,’” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, August 1, 2016, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article93077422.html and Jonathan Drew and Emery P. Dalesio, “Appeals court strikes down NC voter ID law as discriminatory,” (Asheville, NC) Citizen Times, July 29, 2016.
 Jose Delreal, “’Daily Show’ Prompts Resignation,” Politico, October 24, 2013, http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/nc-gop-official-resigns-after-interview-098822.
 Joe Coscarelli, “Don Yelton, GOP Precinct Chair, Delivers Most Baldly Racist Daily Show Interview of All Time,” New York Magazine, October 24, 2013, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/10/don-yelton-racist-daily-show-interview.html.
 Editorial Board, “An NC GOP Leader Embarrasses Himself and His Party on ‘The Daily Show,’” (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer, October 25, 2013.
 John Boyle, “Yelton on Daily Show Appearance: ‘There’s Nothing I Would Take Back’” Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times, October 25, 2013.
 Don Yelton Facebook page, status of May 17, 2016 (7:31 a.m.), accessed September 22, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/don.yelton1/posts/10209882506523430.
 “Time of Primaries and Elections,” North Carolina General Statues, Chapter 163, Elections and Election Laws, Subchapter I, Article 1 (G.S. 163-1), http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByChapter/Chapter_163.html.
Mark Binker, “McCrory Appoints New Elections Board,” WRAL.com, April 26, 2013, http://www.wral.com/mccrroy-appoints-new-elections-board/12386089/.
 Rachel Lewis Hilburn, “Business Brief: NHC GOP Re-elects Amoroso: Governor Appoints Her to State Board of Elections,” WHQR News, May 6, 2013, http://whqr.org/post/business-brief-nhc-gop-re-elects-amoroso-governor-appoints-her-state-board-elections#stream/0.
 Georgia Parke, “Allegations of Voter Fraud Emerge in N.C.,” (Duke University) Chronicle, April 19, 2014, http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2014/04/allegations-voter-fraud-emerge-nc.
 Gannon, “Number of Hours for Early Voting.”
 “Election Board Rejects Early Voting at Winston-Salem School,” Charlotte (NC) Observer, February 11, 2016.
 Michael Hewlett, “Future of Voting Rights Act on the Line,” Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, August 9, 2015, http://www.journalnow.com/future-of-voting-rights-act-on-the-line/article_98dfd6e6-b622-5e1a-a553-0453c0d120fa.html.
 Ibid.; and Michael Hewlett, “Official: Ninety-Six Thousand Could Have Been Denied Vote,” Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, July 23, 2015, http://www.greensboro.com/news/official-could-have-been-denied-vote/article_48c8a506-df8d-569c-a0df-6c5c315603a0.html.
 Hewlett, “Official: Ninety-Six Thousand.”
 Time of Primaries and Elections,” North Carolina General Statues, (G.S. 163-1).
 Gary D. Robertson, “NC Attorney Says Local Voter ID Laws Have Problems,” Associated Press State and Local Wire, December 1, 2011.
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