Maybe the plaintiffs in a federal civil rights trial that began recently in Winston-Salem are holding their heavy fire for later. Or perhaps The Associated Press, in a story that was provided on that trial, picked the weakest witness when deciding whose story to highlight.
But so far, we are unimpressed.
Gwendolyn Farrington, who lives in Durham, testified for the plaintiffs — the U.S. Justice Department, state NAACP and others who are challenging voting laws adopted in 2013 by a GOP-dominated General Assembly and then signed by a Republican governor.
Farrington testified that her vote did not count in the November General Election after she cast her ballot in a precinct near her job because, she said, she didn’t have time after work to get to the precinct where she lived. The problem was that the 2013 state law no longer allows provisional ballots to be cast in the wrong district.
But the 2013 law didn’t eliminate the early voting period, which remains at 10 days. Farrington apparently waited until the last minute on the last day of 11 days during which she could vote and then went to the wrong precinct. She doesn’t work as the poster child to betray a GOP conspiracy to keep poor people of color, mostly young and old, from darkening ballots in favor of Democratic candidates.
The plaintiffs in this case, when comparing to Selma the 2013 laws that did make voting a smidgen harder, really push the hyperbole button hard.
This isn’t Selma — and Selma should be offended.
As we have said in this space often, voting now is almost the easiest it’s ever been, only slightly more difficult than it was in 2012, and a whole lot easier than before early voting, which was not available for the first 225 years of this nation’s history. Even the lynchpin of the 2013 voting law, that dreaded voter ID that more than 30 other states have and which would not take effect until 2016, has been de-fanged with recent legislation allowing ID-less voters to cast a provisional ballot.
The federal case will be widely watched because it could cause a tidal wave that will sweep the nation, potentially rolling back voter ID laws that Democrats say are intended to keep minorities from voting and that Republicans say are needed to protect the integrity of elections.
No one with eyes, ears and an 80 IQ or better doubts that elections in Robeson County are routinely threatened by fraud that is coupled with hauling voters. It takes a great deal of naivety to suggest that ours is the only county out of more than 3,000 in the country where elections are vulnerable to hijacking.
One thing Farrington was correct about is when she said: “I was raised that voting was important. You cannot get your voice heard unless you exercise your right to vote.”
Well said, but voting is more than a right — it’s also a duty.
We have a simple suggestion for anyone who believes that GOP-crafted voting laws threaten their ability to vote.
Go out and vote. That will show those Republicans.