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Image courtesy of George Johnson, Creative Commons license

North Carolina has prioritized suppressing the voice of black voters this election season.

An attempt to suppress the ballot of “minority voters” by Republican officials in North Carolina has reared its ugly head, according to a recent Reuters report.  After public records granted Reuters access to several e-mails, they discovered evidence that implicates local Republican officials in a conspiracy to restrict the number of hours it permits voting sites to stay open.

How? Well, several Republican leaders lobbied 17 election boards to reduce their operating hours, cut weekend and evening availability and even open fewer poll sites, all under the pretext of “conserving county resources.”

To be fair, since 2012, North Carolina has increased the number of operating hours of its early voting sites to 59,000. Yet within that same time frame, voter turnout has dropped by 20 percent in those counties that leave only one poll site open.

But never mind that! Because nothing warms a Republican’s heart more than a balanced budget — supposedly — voter disfranchisement be damned. Just be careful, next time, about leaving a paper trail.

Every good voting scandal needs a villain. In this case, that villain was Bill McAnuity, chairman of the local county board of elections and Republican party loyalist, who was denounced as a traitor by his conservative county comrades after OKing a proposal to, of all things, open a voting site on Sunday so black churchgoers could come out for their God and candidate at their convenience.

“I became a villain, quite frankly,” McAnulty explained to reporters at Reuters. “I got accused of being a traitor and everything else by the Republican Party.”

Under pressure, McAnulty eventually withdrew his support.

According to Salon, voter suppression aimed at marginalized communities has become a habit for North Carolina Republicans in this election. On Monday, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that election boards had manipulated registration lists in an effort to secure a win this year by striking off black voters. In July, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that North Carolina’s voter I.D. laws were “target[ing] African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The question is, as we head into the final lap of what has been an intense, contentious, high-stakes election season between two disfavored candidates, what can we do and where can we turn to protect the ballot for everyone — but especially people of color?

Read more at Reuters and Salon.

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Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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