by John Grooms
At a Friday press conference, "Governor" Pat McCrory announced that he will sign the controversial "voter ID" bill into law, even though he hadn't even read one of the bill's crucial components - and showed a pretty weak grasp of state policy on voter registration. By the time the bill finished snaking its way through the General Assembly, it had morphed from a mere voter ID law into an all-purpose vote-suppression campaign, making far-reaching changes to the way North Carolinians may or may not vote, and earning nationwide notice as the country's most suppressive voting law.
McCrory praised the bill to reporters as just the perfect thing to "restore faith in elections." However, when an AP reporter asked the guv how three specific parts of the bill would help prevent voter fraud, McCrory scrambled for answers. In addition to requiring a government-issued photo-ID card, the bill also ends same-day voter registration, cuts early voting by a week, and abolishes a program that let high school students register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.
First of all, said McCrory, same-day registration had "potential for abuse," and added, "There is plenty of opportunity for voter registration - online, offline, through many methods." Trouble is, North Carolina has never allowed online voter registration. As Rick Perry famously said, "Oops." When asked again how ending the provision ending pre-registration by those under 18 would prevent voter fraud, McCrory replied, "I don't know enough, I'm sorry, I haven't seen that part of the bill." As dad used to say, "Well, isn't that just great?" The governor, someone that normal people might assume knows a whole lot about the ins and outs of governance in his state, holds a press conference to voice support for a highly controversial bill - and he doesn't even know exactly what's in it, nor that North Carolina doesn't offer online registration. Deep sigh.
It was a hell of an eventful week in Raleigh, and McCrory's disjointed press conference topped it off. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice and voting-rights groups are probably going to file federal lawsuits under provisions of the Voting Rights Act which were unaffected by the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the VRA. That suit will be in addition to suits being prepared to take the Charlotte airport back and restore women's full reproductive rights. Sailing above the fray, meanwhile, the governor, through his press conference, successfully reaffirmed his current roles in state government as head cheerleader, Top Smiley Suit, and winner of the state Along-for-the-Ride award.