NC House Speaker Insults All Americans of Good Will by Introducing Voter Suppression Bill on April 4th, the 45th Anniversary of Dr. King Assassination
NC NAACP Legal Experts Challenge So-Called "Free Birth Certificates" Plan;
Announce Grassroots Lobby Day Next Tuesday
NC NAACP STATEMENT ON HB 589
The North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis stooped to a new moral low ground yesterday. Speaker Tillis and others in his party chose April 4th, to introduce a new tax on voting, disguised as voter ID, obviously designed to suppress voting by people of color, the elderly, students and other voters who don't have driver's licenses. Forty-five years ago one of the world's greatest prophetic leaders, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated by a shot heard round the world.
Speaker Tillis and his propagandists will try to spin this new bill, saying it is a "compromise." There is no compromising our voting rights. Our parents and grandparents paid too great a price of blood, sweat and tears to win them. The bill is fundamentally discriminatory, unnecessary and a solution looking for a problem. North Carolinians have been voting without a voter ID for over 200 years, and voter fraud has never compromised the integrity of the process.
The North Carolina Constitution cannot be any clearer: "All elections shall be free." (Article 1, Section 10). The constitution goes on to say, "As political rights and privileges are not dependent upon or modified by property, no property qualification shall affect the right to vote or hold office." (Article 1, Section 11).
Any tax on any citizen who wants to vote - rich, poor, young, old, black, white or brown - is unconstitutional. In 1964, the United States passed the 24th Constitutional Amendment that outlawed $2 poll tax, and "any other taxes" to vote. Whether or not someone can afford the poll tax is irrelevant. The bill is clearly unconstitutional.
By trying to pass an unconstitutional bill and introducing it yesterday, Speaker Tillis's cynical aim to stir up part of the far-right's base is clear. The objective is to mobilize a new racist reaction toward the rebuilding of the great black-white-brown people's assembly that Dr. King was building when he was murdered. The same assembly is again coming together in the new and more diverse South.
Not only did Speaker Tillis manage to insult North Carolina voters by picking this day to introduce the bill, he has insulted the intelligence of many more by his stated reasons. He recently admitted on national television that the extremists' big lie about why we need photo IDs--the so-called 'crime wave of voter fraud' at polling places--was not valid. But, he said, the people had gotten so stirred up about the non-existent crime wave, he had to introduce the bill anyway.
North Carolina already has effective protection against any misconduct at polling places. Those who try to impersonate a qualified voter are subject to felony with a 5 year sentence. All objective observers agree there is virtually no voter fraud in NC.
The Tillis Poll Tax is the latest in a string of anti-people bills he has allowed to be introduced in the first two months of the legislature. Delaying enfranchisement by five years for felons who have paid their debt to society is an embarrassment. Introducing a bill that places a tax burden on parents of students going to college in another district is shameful. In 2008 and 2012 students turned out in record numbers to vote in North Carolina. Why then would this Republican led legislature want to discourage students from voting by requiring them to send an absentee ballot back home or to travel long distances on elections day? The only answer is an abundance of lawmakers committed to a mean-spirited ideology who are out of touch with the majority of North Carolinians' values.
The NAACP calls on all people of good will, who honor Dr. King and his prophetic stands and voice, to join us on Tuesday, April 9, at the First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street in Raleigh, across from our State Capitol, for a short service honoring Dr. King and all the martyrs of the Voting Rights Movement in the South who died so that we might exercise this sacred right. We will walk from the Church, around the State Capitol that represents all North Carolinians, and into the Legislature to exercise our constitutional rights to petition the government to stop the insults and injuries it has directed toward the people of North Carolina.
Insulting Dr. King's memory, Speaker Tillis, has crossed the line. We will never go back.
Clink Link below for full Press Release
Then Join Us on Tuesday, April 9th at the NC State Legislature