In North Carolina, Republicans took the General Assembly in 2010 and the governorship in 2012. The takeover received unprecedented support from one right-wing multimillionaire, Art Pope — who, according to progressive publication, The American Prospect, singlehandedly provided about 80 percent of the funding for the state’s conservative groups.
Upon taking control, the Republicans began systematically dismantling the social infrastructure of the state. They slashed taxes on the top 5 percent and raised them on the bottom 95 percent. They eliminated the earned-income tax credit for 900,000 low-wage workers. They cut Medicaid coverage for 500,000. They ended unemployment benefits for 170,000. They threw about 30,000 kids out of pre-K, while transferring $90 million from public schools to vouchers. They voted to allow guns purchased without a background check to be carried in parks, restaurant and bars.
As the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, put it: “They’ve drank all the Tea Party they could drink and sniffed all the Koch that they could sniff.”
In one “omnibus bill,” the legislature would create restrictive voter ID procedures that will disqualify estimated 318,000-registered voters. They cut a week out of early voting time, ended same day registration, eliminates state-supported voter registration drives and ended pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds. They require more frequent purges of voter rolls, and prohibit extending poll hours on Election Day, even if there are long lines still waiting to vote. They even eliminated Citizen Awareness Month that encouraged citizens to register and vote. North Carolina had featured some of the most enlightened election laws and ranked in the top 15 states of voter turnout nationally.
Listen to an amazing speech by Rev. William Barber II on the call to action. His address is at the American Federation of Teachers Reclaiming the Promise Conference: