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Voter suppression

Emails show just how much North Carolina Republicans tried to prevent black people from voting

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When federal court judges struck down provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 voting law earlier this year, they were pretty explicit as to why, writing that the law’s limitations on early voting “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” To name just one example, legislators eliminated whole swaths of early voting days after they collected data showing those were days when the black vote was highest.

The law was struck down in July. So how did North Carolina Republicans spend August? Newly-released emails show they were busy targeting African Americans with almost surgical precision—again.

Email records received by Reuters in response to Freedom of Information Act requests show Republican state politicians lobbying aggressively for early voting hours to be cut from Sundays.

“Many of our folks are angry and opposed to Sunday voting,” state GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse wrote in an email to Republicans on county election boards. “Six days of voting in one week is enough. Period.”

“With all of the opportunities to vote by mail, early in person Monday – Saturday, and on Election Day, there is no justification for requiring election workers to work on Sundays,” wrote Elaine Hewitt, a member of the Rowan County Republican Executive Committee.

Another state GOP leader, Garry Terry, wrote Republican election officials to remind them that they were expected to act “in the best interest of the Republican Party.”

Why all the fuss about Sunday voting? The GOP officials said they don’t think people should be working on Sunday, and that it’s not worth the expense. Woodhouse also told Reuters that the state “currently [has] more early voting locations and hours open than ever were open under Democrat control.”

But these officials also knew lots of black voters head to the polls on Sundays. And that’s not just guesswork: the state’s lawyers said as much in court when they defended the 2013 law, which also targeted Sunday voting. The judges called this “as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times.”

Meanwhile, early voting results coming in from North Carolina say that black turnout is down compared with previous years. What a mystery!