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North Carolina Voter Registration Selectively Drops — is this Vote Suppression?

Progressive blogger DocDawg has discovered a highly curious pattern in North Carolina, where by federal law the state government is required to reach out to citizens at the DMV and in public assistance offices and offer them a chance to register to vote.  You can read the details here, but I’ll cut right to the chase in this summary.  Since Republican Governor Pat McCrory took office…

  • … there has been essentially no change in the rate of new voter registrations at offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • … the rate of new voter registrations at public assistance offices is less than half of what it was.

The DMV tends to be frequented by people who can afford to register and drive cars.  Public assistance offices tend to be frequented by people who can’t afford food, much less cars.  Guess which of these populations is more likely to vote Republican?

In case you’re wondering, this pattern holds when DocDawg and his team of muckrakers control for the number of visits to public assistance and DMV offices — so it’s not the consequence of changes in traffic.

Is this definitive proof of active voter suppression?  No.  Is this a pattern that merits serious investigation?  Absolutely.

13 thoughts on “North Carolina Voter Registration Selectively Drops — is this Vote Suppression?”

  1. Ella says:

    It seems there is evidence already as this is being review in court. But I wonder how many people come of age to register to vote every year. There should be birth and death records to keep up with that statistic. Too many people registered under different names bloat some registrations now just as they were found to be in the 70’s and 80’s. Multiple drivers licenses and even state ID’s lead to multiple registrations and are both accomplished at the DMV. Just a thought.

    1. Bill says:

      Ella, I’m sorry to see that you unthinkingly buy into all the standard Republican ‘voting fraud’ tropes. Where is your evidence that “too many people” register under multiple names? That data doesn’t exist, simply because this isn’t an actual thing.

      “Where,” I hear you ask, is my evidence that voting fraud isn’t an actual problem? Well, consider for a moment the odious voter-harassment organization, “Voter Integrity Project – NC”. They spend tons of other peoples’ (suckers’) money analyzing voter registration rolls to find precisely such problems, then go knocking on people’s doors, following them, and harassing them to see if they’re committing voting fraud. They’ve been doing this since 2010, and by their own admission their efforts have resulted in precisely ONE filed charge of felony vote fraud, and zero convictions. Republicans love to talk about massive voting fraud, kind of like children talk about their invisible friends. And both are equally fantastical. On the other hand, there is deep and wide evidence (and many court findings) of state-based voter suppression over the past decade and (as this story reports) continuing today. And yet you have the mindless audacity to prattle on about non-existent voting fraud in reference to an article about voter suppression. Shame on you.

      1. Ella says:

        I’m sorry, it appears you do not have any actual experience with voter fraud. I do. It is extremely difficult to prove in court as transformation is an issue of being. It is the simplest way to get trick the ignorant or suppress those who do know by speaking loudly to the ignorant. You speak eloquently, so which are you? The ignorant? I was in Selma when up to 10 names were given to one person so they could be registered voters on a paper list. It was publicly minimized for political reasons. A very active political group came into existence because they found out that they could intimidate the opponent, embarrass them. But you depend on what you find in the courts today, in time that too will come to light.

  2. Bill says:

    A quick update on this story: today (5/8) a number of voting rights organizations banded together to notify the director of the NC Board of Elections that “the state of North Carolina is not in compliance with Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, 52 USC 20506 (NVRA)”. The notification they submitted included the statistical evidence cited in this article, plus recent field research finding that many public assistance offices in NC don’t even keep voter registration forms on hand, and upwards of 90+% of assistance applicants interviewed upon exiting these offices indicate they were never asked if they wish to register to vote (something required of all assistance offices and DMVs by the NVRA).

    This story will develop rapidly from here on in. In light of such emerging evidence of malicious intent, I look for NC’s voter suppression law to be overturned in federal court later this summer.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Wow! The field research provides the smoking gun, and the statistical pattern shows the damage.

      1. Bill says:

        Links to the text of the complaint filed yesterday, the evidence from field research, plus the growing stream of MSM coverage of this affair, are in this update.

  3. Ella says:

    Congratulations Bill.

  4. Ella says:

    Population changes to metropolitan areas and an increased middle class from lower as well as a decreased upper class to middle class has also had an effect on declines in registration. Population decrease may be another factor. The resistration at DMV, only one of many locations where registrants may register to vote, is down 17%. If you read below, there are a multitude of locations where others may also register. But we will see what comes of this.

    See Section 7 bottom paragraph.

    §20506. Voter registration agencies (52 USC 20506)
    (a) Designation
    (1) Each State shall designate agencies for the registration of voters in elections for Federal office.
    (2) Each State shall designate as voter registration agencies—
    (A) all offices in the State that provide public assistance; and
    (B) all offices in the State that provide State-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities.

    (3)(A) In addition to voter registration agencies designated under paragraph (2), each State shall designate other offices within the State as voter registration agencies.
    (B) Voter registration agencies designated under subparagraph (A) may include—
    (i) State or local government offices such as public libraries, public schools, offices of city and county clerks (including marriage license bureaus), fishing and hunting license bureaus, government revenue offices, unemployment compensation offices, and offices not described in paragraph (2)(B) that provide services to persons with disabilities; and
    (ii) Federal and nongovernmental offices, with the agreement of such offices.

    (4)(A) At each voter registration agency, the following services shall be made available:
    (i) Distribution of mail voter registration application forms in accordance with paragraph (6).
    (ii) Assistance to applicants in completing voter registration application forms, unless the applicant refuses such assistance.
    (iii) Acceptance of completed voter registration application forms for transmittal to the appropriate State election official.

    (B) If a voter registration agency designated under paragraph (2)(B) provides services to a person with a disability at the person’s home, the agency shall provide the services described in subparagraph (A) at the person’s home.
    (5) A person who provides service described in paragraph (4) shall not—
    (A) seek to influence an applicant’s political preference or party registration;
    (B) display any such political preference or party allegiance;
    (C) make any statement to an applicant or take any action the purpose or effect of which is to discourage the applicant from registering to vote; or
    (D) make any statement to an applicant or take any action the purpose or effect of which is to lead the applicant to believe that a decision to register or not to register has any bearing on the availability of services or benefits.

    Section 7) (7) No information relating to a declination to register to vote in connection with an application made at an office described in paragraph (6) may be used for any purpose other than voter registration.
    (b) Federal Government and private sector cooperation
    All departments, agencies, and other entities of the executive branch of the Federal Government shall, to the greatest extent practicable, cooperate with the States in carrying out subsection (a), and all nongovernmental entities are encouraged to do so.
    (c) Armed Forces recruitment offices
    (1) Each State and the Secretary of Defense shall jointly develop and implement procedures for persons to apply to register to vote at recruitment offices of the Armed Forces of the United States.
    (2) A recruitment office of the Armed Forces of the United States shall be considered to be a voter registration agency designated under subsection (a)(2) for all purposes of this chapter.
    (d) Transmittal deadline
    (1) Subject to paragraph (2), a completed registration application accepted at a voter registration agency shall be transmitted to the appropriate State election official not later than 10 days after the date of acceptance.
    (2) If a registration application is accepted within 5 days before the last day for registration to vote in an election, the application shall be transmitted to the appropriate State election official not later than 5 days after the date of acceptance.
    (Pub. L. 103–31, §7, May 20, 199

    1. Bill says:

      Ella, if you’d bother to read and attempt to comprehend the Daily Kos article, plus the new evidence (linked to in the update at the end of that article) – instead of just speculating wildly – you would see that the decline in voter registration via public assistance offices began essentially overnight when the current Republican governor took office. So we can rule out, without further consideration, your notion that “population changes to metropolitan areas and an increased middle class from lower” might be the cause, not to mention your zany and incomprehensible suggestion “as well as a decreased upper class to middle class” (WTF?).

      Also, highjacking a thread by posting long blocks of cut-and-pasted text which you could simply link to is poor etiquette.

    2. Jim Cook says:

      The analysis in the Daily Kos article also controls for public assistance volume, Ella.

      1. Ella says:

        First let me give credit to uscode.house.gov for the cut-and-paste. I did not highjack this thread though. I wanted to find out how many alleged disenfranchised voters there were. A little over 304,000 people are not registered to vote in North Carolina to date, for whatever reasons, whoever they are.

        http://townhall.com/tipsheet/danieldoherty/2014/07/07/doj-were-filing-a-lawsuit-against-north-carolinas-voter-id-law-n1859654

        This is one site that is covering the DOJ law suit against the Voter ID law in North Carolina. But you are talking about people that are not given access to registration forms through offices for the poor. A different issue at an appropriate time. Of course the Republicans had a town hall in North Carolina today. (Just because this seems to be a slam Republicans moment.) I saw the public assistance chart, Jim, thank you for reminding me. In the Annual Assessment section I noticed that 3 other states had declines in registration as well. Of the places to register, none included the public assistance offices, but I know they are used in some states. It is a good time to test the law, in July, while another legal action is taking place. I wasn’t trying to dismiss this research, rather I was trying to clear my mind on some aspects of it that aren’t shown here. Like the number of non registered voters compared with a national average. There are parts of the law I agree with and parts I wonder who stayed awake for nights dreaming up. It needs to be challenged. Better?

        1. Bill says:

          “Of the places to register, none included the public assistance offices, but I know they are used in some states.”

          I don’t know, Ella. If you have actually read the Daily Kos article, you shouldn’t have been able to escape learning that “they are used in some states” is wrong. They are used in all states, because federal law (the National Voter Registration Act of 1993) requires all public assistance offices and DMV offices to actively solicit their patrons to register to vote at those offices. [Note to experts: yes, I know, North Dakota is exempt from these provisions of the NVRA, because it does not have voter registration at all. But every other state is subject to NVRA).

  5. Ella says:

    This has been a bad week for me apparently. That is listed as “A” in the “code”. Got to go put on my skull cap so I can think.

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