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N.C. Opinions: Greensboro

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More attacks on voting

From an editorial Friday in the (Greensboro) News & Record:

If the pattern isn’t clear to everyone yet, then some people just don’t want to see. The leaders of North Carolina’s state government want to make it more difficult for many residents to vote.

The election “reform” law passed by the Republican-dominated legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, contained plenty of evidence – not even considering the photo ID requirement that drew so much attention. Shortening early voting, ending same-day registration and preregistration for high school students and eliminating straight-party voting are just some of the changes that will discourage participation and likely raise frustrations by causing longer lines on Election Day.

All 100 county boards turned from the control of Democrats to Republicans when McCrory replaced Democrat Bev Perdue as governor in January. Now some of them are beginning to continue the work begun by the legislature.

The Watauga County board recently voted to close the voting site on the Appalachian State University campus. Instead, students will have to vote in a consolidated precinct that will have more than 9,000 registered voters at a site that offers approximately 30 parking spaces and isn’t on a bus route, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.

Meanwhile, the Republican chairman of the Forsyth County board proposed closing the polling site on the Winston-Salem State campus because a professor offered extra credit to students who voted. That was wrong, but it’s not a reason to close a voting place.

In Pasquotank County, the Republican Party chairman is challenging the voting status of Elizabeth City State students who live in dorms on the pretext that they’re not qualified residents – although it’s a long-established practice that students can vote where they attend college just as military personnel can vote where they’re stationed.

Some people in college communities resent students voting. They don’t think students should have a voice in local affairs if they’re only short-term residents or don’t pay property taxes.

Students do pay sales and other taxes, but that’s not a prerequisite for voting. Neither is duration of residency. Besides, it’s not a positive American attitude to resent voting by anyone who has a legal right to do so.

It goes beyond resentment to enact laws and policies that seem intended to move the ballot box farther out of anyone’s reach. That is what’s happening in North Carolina, and everyone should see it for what it is.

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