In just about 100 days, the Sampson County electorate will be voting in the 2018 mid-term election with a great deal to be determined on the state ballot. One of those important matters to be decided by the 2018 election will concern your right to vote in the future in North Carolina.
Fighting for the right to vote has always been a big part of the struggle for equality in America. One would think that protecting the right to vote shouldn’t be a partisan matter, with both Republicans and Democrats doing all they can to expand, not suppress, the right to vote. Another matter that shouldn’t be a Republican or Democrat issue is the need to find ways to make voting fairer and easier.
Most definitely, everyone’s right to vote should be guaranteed and protected, while encouraging those who care about the future of their community and nation, to register and get out and vote. However, that’s not the thinking of the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh who, since gaining power in 2011, have sought ways to suppress the right to vote in our state.
With little regard for the struggle for the right to vote in America, particularly in the former Confederacy, the first measure to suppress the right to vote was a Voter ID Law which was passed by the Republican dominated Legislature in 2013. The opponents of the 2013 Voter ID Law, believing it was designed to disfranchise the poor, elderly and minority voters, challenged the law in federal court, with the federal appeals court declaring the Voter ID Law unconstitutional.
Now, some five years later, the latest chapter of the story of voting in North Carolina will be part of the 2018 mid-term election in November. The Republican-controlled General Assembly will ask N.C. voters to place another barrier to voting by adding a constitutional amendment that will require photo ID to vote, in the North Carolina Constitution. Attention, North Carolina voters, be aware! The State Republican leaders, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, “are passing the buck to voters by asking them to permanently change our state’s constitution in a way that will place hurdles in front of law-abiding North Carolinians, silence people’s voices and undermine a fundamental right.”
By doing the Republican leaders’ “dirty work,” the NC voters will be taking the blame for passing a voter ID law which many people say isn’t necessary and will be a discriminatory voting restriction. Others critical to the proposed photo ID requirement for voting say, “it’s a scheme to disenfranchise poor, elderly and minority voters who are more likely to support Democrats.”
So, let’s not go down this dark road again. Instead, we need to honor the courage of those who fought, sacrificed and even died for the right to vote as part of the “Freedom Summer” voter registration campaign across the South over 50 years ago this month.
North Carolina voters, you have the final say.
Larry Sutton is a retired teacher from Clinton High School.