Given that there’s an election happening, you’d probably think America’s major political parties would be excited to have more people participating in the voting process, right? Well, not in North Carolina, where the state Republican party hasn’t just been working to actively stop black people from voting—they’re actually bragging about it.
In a press release put out by the North Carolina GOP on Monday, party officials tout the fact that “African American Early Voting is down 8.5% from this time in 2012.” What’s more, the release trumpets, “as a share of Early Voters, African Americans are down 6.0%, and Caucasians are up 4.2%.”
Put simply, black voters—who traditionally skew Democratic—aren’t showing up to the polls like they have in years past. Why? In part, because that’s exactly what North Carolina Republicans have been trying to achieve.
Earlier this year, federal judges ruled against that the state’s 2013 voting laws—written and passed by the Republican majority—arguing that it “target[ed] African American voters with almost surgical precision,” by, among other things, ending early voting on days calculated to have the highest amount of black voters participate.
What’s more, since being dealt that defeat, state Republicans again targeted early voting, this time seeking to close polls on Sundays, arguing that “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.” They did so, however, knowing full well that districts in which Sunday voting was an option were largely black and leaned Democratic.
Then there’s the fact thousands of voters—the majority of whom are black—were recently reinstated onto voter registration rolls, following an NAACP lawsuit which claimed they had likely been illegally purged by the state government. It’s easy to imagine that many people would be left confused or misinformed about their voting status even after the situation was rectified. Add all of this together and it’s no wonder black turnout is lower—particularly when it comes to early voting.
In North Carolina, as well as in other key swing states this election year, there are nevertheless efforts to ensure that black voters aren’t shut out from the process. “Souls to the Polls” initiatives spearheaded by black clergy are already in effect, working to get voters to cast ballots before, and on, Election Day.
“Voting, for us, is both a spiritual and a political issue,” Rev. William Barber, president of North Carolina’s NAACP, told the Charlotte Observer.
In describing the depressed Democratic turnout, however, North Carolina GOP officials wrote in their press release that it “may finally prove the myth pushed by many mainstream media outlets of the superior Clinton get out the vote operation, as measured by the number of Clinton-specific offices in comparison to Trump-specific offices.”
“The vaulted Clinton ground game,” the release continues, “has been buried in North Carolina by the Republican effort, thus far.”
Indeed, when it comes to racially motivated voter depression, the North Carolina GOP’s statement interestingly offers something rare in politics—the truth.