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In North Carolina and Florida, Is the Trump Voter Suppression Plan Working?
In North Carolina and Florida,
Is the Trump Voter Suppression Plan Working?
Mass purging of black Democrats from voter rolls and African Americans low early voting turnout raises concerns for Hillary Clinton supporters in swing states
Sabrina Siddiqui in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Richard Luscombe in Miami
Thursday 3 November 2016 17.08 EDT
A shorter URL for the above link:
With less than a week remaining until election day, Obamas speech campaigning for Hillary Clinton was marked by a palpable sense of urgency amid a tightening race. But as the US president delivered what has become his routine stump speech for Clinton on Wednesday branding Donald Trump a threat to democracy and attacking the judgment of Republican lawmakers who support their nominee he invoked a lesser known name before the fervent crowd.
I want you think about a woman named named Grace Bell Hardison, Obama said.
Hardison was a 100-year-old black woman who had lived in the same town in North Carolina her entire life. Last month, her voter registration was challenged in her home of Beaufort County in what officials called an effort to clear up the voting rolls. Of the list of 138 purged voters that included Hardison, 92 were black and registered Democrats.
Trump, he noted, was calling on supporters to monitor certain areas at the polls.
Theyre just out in public saying were going to try and suppress the African American vote on election day, or the youth vote on election day.
This was a seeming reference to a Bloomberg story from last week in which an unnamed Trump official was quoted as saying: We have three major voter suppression operations under way, aimed at idealistic white liberals, young women and African Americans.
The critical battleground of North Carolina is in many ways the ground zero of concerns over access to the ballot among black voters.
Republicans in the state have purged thousands of voters from the rolls, the majority of whom are black Democrats. The NAACP filed a lawsuit this week, stating that the practice of purging voter rolls up to 95 days before an election was a violation of federal law. The US justice department also issued a sharp warning to the election boards in the relevant counties of Beaufort, Moore and Cumberland.
Penda Hair, an attorney representing the the North Carolina NAACP, said the counties in question were allowing individual private vigilante residents to challenge voters based on mailings that were unregulated by the state. The private citizens were sending mailings that would come back as undeliverable, which they would then use to challenge the residence of the voters they wanted the county to purge from the rolls.
To those in North Carolina, the pattern of purging voter rolls is reminiscent of efforts to curtail the black vote through strict voter ID laws struck down by a federal court earlier this year for targeting African Americans with almost surgical precision. The supreme court denied a request in August to reinstate the law.
For Democrats, the issue threatens to dampen turnout among one of its core constituencies. African Americans were instrumental in twice propelling Obama to the White House and have been aggressively courted by Clinton throughout her campaign over the last 18 months.
With the clock ticking toward 8 November and early voting already under way, Clinton and her top surrogates have devoted ample time to shoring up support among black voters.
Obama won the state of North Carolina in 2008 by just about 14,000 votes, and went on to lose there to Romney in 2012 by roughly 92,000 votes. As Obama and his wife Michelle have implored voters while campaigning for Clinton across the country: just two votes per precinct hold the potential to sway the election away from Democrats.
The Obamas, who have emerged as Clintons most powerful surrogates, have tailored their message in particular to appeal to both black and young voters. Seeking to counter a potential enthusiasm gap toward Clinton among such key demographics, the president framed efforts by Republicans to suppress the vote as precisely what should motivate them to exercise their political power.
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