Anthony Haith won a victory of sorts Monday. Haith is one of 12 people in Alamance County who faced prison time for voting in the 2016 presidential election while on probation from a felony sentence. Their cases had received some national attention in recent weeks, much of it focused on the Alamance County district attorney, a Republican who was scorned for being overzealous in prosecuting what appeared to be some well-meaning voters.
That DA, Pat Nadolski, relented Monday and allowed five of the 12 to have their cases dismissed as part of plea deals. Haith was one of the five, and he left the Alamance County courtroom to applause. But Haith didn’t feel like celebrating. Outside, he told reporters he’d been excited to vote — but no more. He would refrain from voting again, he vowed, and he said he would tell his four children also not to vote.
Don’t, Mr. Haith.
If you give up on voting, then you give in to the intent of a law that penalizes felons even after they’ve been incarcerated for their crimes. That law, as your attorney said Monday, is a vestige of a time when the state sought to disenfranchise African-American voters. It continues to do just that.
If you persuade your children not to vote, you take away four more voices in the fight against unjust laws and the legislators who craft them today with similar intent. Those lawmakers surely won’t mind if five more potential voters decided to throw up their hands instead.
We can’t pretend to understand the struggle to reclaim your life — including the apartment you said you lost because of your arrest for voting. But many in North Carolina know the weight of that larger battle against Republican leaders who relentlessly attempt to consolidate power by taking it away from others. Those Republicans have pushed laws that target poor and minority voters with precision through early voting restrictions and unnecessarily oppressive voter ID laws. The courts have struck down some of those efforts, but not all, and it’s tempting for many North Carolinians, to throw up their hands, like you have, at the relentlessness of this GOP supermajority.
But five of your fellow voters had something to say about that Monday. They are former governors of North Carolina — three Democrats and two Republicans — and they held a news conference in Raleigh to object to yet another Republican power grab. This one involves two constitutional amendments that would give the N.C. legislature control over appointment powers that belong to the N.C. governor.
There are court cases involving those amendments, but the governors acknowledged Monday that the best way to fight them is the simplest — to vote. It’s a cliche, but it’s more than that. It’s the best way to fight for yourself, for your children, for our children. It’s always been that way, always been the path to something better.
And no, it might not feel that way now, not with this North Carolina legislature, and not for an Alamance County man who made a mistake and is ready to give up.
Don’t, Mr. Haith. Don’t, North Carolina. Vote.