The candidacy of Motravias King
September 3, 2013 1:21 PM   Subscribe

The North Carolina Board of Elections has unanimously overturned a decision Pasquotank County Board of Elections barring barring an Elizabeth City State University senior Montravias King from running for local office. The County Board had ruled that King's on-campus address couldn't be used to establish local residency.

Earlier this year, Pasquotank County GOP chair Richard Gilbert also purged fifty-six student voters from Elizabeth City State University, all African-American, from the voting rolls, claiming they were not properly register to vote at their campus address.

As noted Previously on Metafilter, North Carolina has become a hotbed of political disagreements since enacting the nation's strictest voter suppression laws.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
ECSU is an Historically Black University, so it's easy for people like Richard Gilbert to claim that they're just going after all "improperly registered voters," and they just happen to all be African-American. The fact that his equivalents in, say, Durham or Orange County aren't doing the same thing, well, that's hardly Mr. Gilbert's fault, now is it.
posted by Etrigan at 1:29 PM on September 3, 2013 [10 favorites]

Rachel Maddow did a big story on this a couple weeks ago. Mr. Gilbert was also ignoring all the voters that came from the very white college from across town. I am still shaking with rage but I feel better knowing that someone in NC finally came to their senses.
posted by Ber at 1:33 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've said it before on MetaFilter, but the demographics in NC are changing quickly, and it will be a reliably blue state in the near future. The state Republican party is making a desperate grasp for power here in the waning days of their control over the state, and while it is certainly shitty for those of us living through it (especially women and minorities), I think it will be a temporary blip in a gradual but undeniable slide leftwards. Good job, Board of Elections.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:47 PM on September 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

Mr. Gilbert was also ignoring all the voters that came from the very white college from across town.

Students. The Pasquotank decision effectively overturned the right of all students to vote. What a massive disgrace. I can't even. We're telling our young kids to choose between the right to vote and run for office, and college. Who the fuck comes up with this shit.
posted by phaedon at 1:50 PM on September 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh for fuck's sake. This is exactly what happened when I was in college TWENTY YEARS AGO. (Minus the racial angle, but townies vs. students was plenty controversy enough.) Guy sued and the courts were like, "well of course he's a resident there and can run if he wants to. What the hell were you thinking? This isn't exactly rocket... uh... law."

So of course everyone in town lost their shit, convinced that the students were about to take over like a plague of Rajneeshi in Oregon. They'd loot all the bars, molest the local daughters, and basically turn the place into The Road Warrior. Guy got like two percent of the vote.

All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.
posted by Naberius at 1:51 PM on September 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Yup. Small college in a small New England town and a court battle over students being able to vote and run for local office, 20ish years ago.
posted by rtha at 2:01 PM on September 3, 2013

A unanimous decision from an appointed board consisting of two Democrats and three Republicans. Well done. Now, they need to turn their attention to the purges of the voting roles.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:15 PM on September 3, 2013

Conservatives Are Finally Admitting What Voter Suppression Laws Are All About
Phyllis Schlafly, the doyen of right-wing crankery, explains that the reason was simple: "Early voting plays a major role in Obama's ground game....[It] is an essential component of the Democrats' get-out-the-vote campaign." Steve Benen comments:
Have you ever heard a political figure accidentally read stage direction, unaware that it's not supposed to repeated out loud? This is what Schlafly's published column reminds me of.

For North Carolina Republicans, the state's new voter-suppression measures are ostensibly legitimate — GOP officials are simply worried about non-existent fraud. The response from Democrats and voting-rights advocates is multi-faceted, but emphasizes that some of these measures, including restrictions on early voting, have nothing whatsoever to do with fraud prevention and everything to do with a partisan agenda.

And then there's Phyllis Schlafly, writing a piece for publication effectively saying Democrats are entirely right — North Carolina had to dramatically cut early voting because it's not good for Republicans.

Remember, Schlafly's piece wasn't intended as criticism; this is her defense of voter suppression in North Carolina. Proponents of voting rights are arguing, "This is a blatantly partisan scheme intended to rig elections," to which Schlafly is effectively responding, "I know, isn't it great?"
Actually, I doubt that Schlafly was very far off the reservation here. Generally speaking, I think conservatives have gotten tired of keeping up the pretense about the purpose of their voter suppression laws. Why bother, after all? It might make sense if they needed to convince a few Democrats to join their cause, but that's obviously hopeless. Alternatively, it might be necessary if they needed to maintain a legal fig leaf for future court cases, but the Supreme Court has ruled that purely partisan motivations for voting laws are A-OK. Finally, they might care about public opinion. And they probably do. But not much.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:21 PM on September 3, 2013 [17 favorites]

Actually, I doubt that Schlafly was very far off the reservation here.

Yeah. It's one of those things where it's hard to keep up the pretense, I imagine. After all, there's no actual voter fraud problem that you're trying to address, so the only states where you are really going to push on the issue are states where there are a lot of Democratic voters to disenfranchise. People have a pretty impressive capacity to convince themselves that they're fighting the good fight no matter how shitty their behavior, but this really is one of those cases where--especially if you're someone who isn't hunkered down fighting within the restrained horizon of your particular district--you must actually know that your rationalizations are mere pretexts.
posted by yoink at 3:06 PM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm pleasantly surprised the state Board of Elections (3R, 2D) ruled in Mr. King's favor.

Farther west in Boone, NC, the republican led local elections board voted to eliminate an on-campus voting location. From this story it sounds like they're backing off a little bit, probably due in part to the national attention that story also got.
posted by marxchivist at 3:19 PM on September 3, 2013

This sort of shit was happening in New Hampshire two years ago as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:36 PM on September 3, 2013

The 1978 supreme court decision was based on illegal restrictions on voting at Prairie View A&M in Hempstead Texas.

In 2004, 2006, and 2008, Waller County still tried to prevent students from voting.
In the 1970s, the Waller County registrar required Prairie View A&M students to complete a residency questionnaire, something others did not have to do. In 1978, the Supreme Court said this violated the students' right to vote and ordered the registrar to determine student eligibility the same way it did for all other individuals.
posted by Mad_Carew at 3:53 PM on September 3, 2013

If the example you're giving of college students being disinfranchised doesn't involve an HBCU (historically black college or university), please consider that the comparison is not so great. Preventing students specifically from Elizabeth City State from voting is a lot more severe than ordinary age discrimination and a lot scarier given the overthrowing of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:25 PM on September 3, 2013

Meanwhile here in Tuscaloosa, they're buying votes with drinks in the gerrymandered Machine district.
posted by fogovonslack at 5:31 PM on September 3, 2013

ordinary age discrimination

At my definitely-not-HBCU, the issue was not age but residency, as with Elizabeth City State. Our town fathers didn't want students voting because as a block, we tended to be less conservative.
posted by rtha at 5:54 PM on September 3, 2013

Yes, and that's absolutely what's happening in many of these cases. But specifically targetting HBCU students goes way beyond specifically targetting college students.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:01 PM on September 3, 2013

Voter suppression pisses me off so much that I decided to do something about it. I wrote a couple of articles on the 2008 election when I stopped a voter caging effort by the Republicans. You can find them at El Reg, I wrote them under the pseudonym "PEO Pete." Part 1 is the general background leading up to the election. Part 2 is where I stopped a GOP voter caging effort to disenfranchise about 200 people in a precinct with a high proportion of students and minorities (meaning Democrats). That was a hell of an election. I remember working 93 hours in the week that ended on Election Day, and I pulled 3 all-nighters to write these two articles.

I finally figured out what happened, when I mentioned it to another Precinct Official in 2010. He said, "Oh yeah we heard about you, I was working down at the University Library, which was also heavily challenged. We heard you did 200 Election Day Registrations all by yourself, we were the only site that did more EDRs, about 250, but we had 3 people to do it." The Library precinct was 100% university students, the perfect target. Then he told me how the GOP scheme worked.

The GOP buys a mailing list from the State Auditor, containing names of all registered Democrats in a target precinct. They mail a postcard to all the Democrats, if the postcards are returned as undeliverable, or if the registered voter just doesn't mail them back, the GOP challenge the registration, claiming that is evidence there is no such person living at that address. Of course Democrats are most likely to ignore mailings from the GOP. The people that didn't actively confirm their registration get wiped from the voter registration books, without them ever knowing it. Then the voters show up on Election Day with a valid registration card that was just mailed to them a month or two ago, but the books say they're not registered. So I just re-registered them on the spot with Election Day Registration.

I have done some intense stuff during elections, but I didn't work the latest General Election. I was the Election Deputy's right hand man, but now I am on the outs. A new County Auditor was elected, the old one was voted out after some GOP-concocted scandal. He was one of the strongest opponents of voter suppression. I don't know if the new weakling Auditor and the new Deputy of Elections can stand up to suppression efforts from the Republican Governor, who recently appointed a special prosecutor with a $250k annual budget, solely to prosecute nonexistent election fraud. The Governor can try to corrupt the system from the inside, the front line election workers may be the only ones who can stop him.

Anyway, my point is, if you don't like voter suppression in your county, do something about it. You can, it is within your power. Election Officials are almost all volunteers, and most of these are paid positions. They will take just about anyone who can do the job. You can do it. You can learn the system and prevent voter suppression. Go volunteer.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:11 PM on September 3, 2013 [11 favorites]

Rachel Maddow did a big story on this a couple weeks ago. Mr. Gilbert was also ignoring all the voters that came from the very white college from across town. I am still shaking with rage but I feel better knowing that someone in NC finally came to their senses.

Update: Voting rights pushback gains ground in NC
posted by homunculus at 9:01 PM on September 3, 2013

Glad to see at least one step forward after all this backward-ass crap we've been dealing with in NC this year.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:30 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

In 2006 I remember telling my students that they needed to vote, because if they didn't, the elections would be decided by those who did vote - the elderly, the rich, etc. - and if they felt those people were going to make decisions that were best for the students they were dead wrong.

I got a roomful of blank stares.

This was during the one year I spent teaching at ECSU. I'm glad some of the students there are taking action. And I'm still not sure if my students just didn't care, or were so unused to having a professor tell them they were responsible for their own futures that they didn't know what to do or how to respond.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:15 AM on September 4, 2013

I once worked in a precinct that was 100% student dormitories, during an election for County Supervisors. We had about 5 votes that day. But when something really important and relevant to their lives is on the ballot, they will turn out in droves. You should have seen the turnout when the students petitioned and got a referendum on the ballot to repeal a local ordinance raising the drinking age from 18 to 21. The referendum failed due to even higher than usual turnout by local permanent residents, they pressured the City Council to raise the drinking age in the first place.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:48 PM on September 4, 2013

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