It comes as no surprise

Published 10:38 pm Monday, August 5, 2013

After the Republicans gained control of the N.C. General Assembly in 2010, many people expected the political pendulum to swing toward conservatism after decades and decades of the Legislature being controlled by the Democrats. That pendulum made a big swing, bigger than a lot of people expected. The pendulum might still be swinging to the right.

That’s a bit scary and worrisome, especially when it comes to voting.

Last week, a state Senate’s Rules Committee approved a new version of House Bill 589, a bill that originally address voter identification. Because of a series of provisions added to the bill, it has become a compilation bill that would eliminate the existing law that allows people to register to vote and vote on the same day, shorten the early voting period and do away with the voting preregistration program for 16-year olds and 17-year olds.

Why the proposed changes? Simple answer: Republicans believe those existing policies and programs give Democrats an edge at the polls.

One would think legislators of any stripe would want to make it easier for people to vote, not more difficult to mark ballots. Apparently, Republicans think differently.

The proposed changes are troubling, and we are not alone in that belief.

“We are deeply troubled that the Senate would introduce such sweeping changes to our state’s election laws in the final hours of this year’s
legislative session with limited public input and without thorough examination,” wrote Brent Laurenz, executive director of the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Voter Education. “Rushing this serious legislation is unworthy of the Legislature’s solemn duty to serve the people of North Carolina.
“Many of these proposed changes would severely limit voter access to the polls, such as the provision to shorten early voting. A poll commissioned in April by the N.C. Center for Voter Education found that 85 percent of North
Carolina voters support early voting, with 76 percent wanting to lengthen the early voting period or maintain its current duration. Indeed, over 2.5 million voters cast a ballot early in the fall of 2012 — more than half of all those who voted in last year’s general election.”

Republican legislator, are you listenin