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Joint | April 4, 2013 | Press Room | Joint Democrat Press Conference

Full MP3 Audio File

Good morning everyone. We’ve reached that point in the session where we’ve run out of cities to take over and we’ve run out of people to disenfranchise, now we turn to voter bills. I can not help but observe the Senate Bill that was introduced recently, by the way Senate Bill 666, that rolls all of the bad stuff they can think of at this point into one bill. Now apparently, the Republicans are turning to using the tax code to keep young people from voting at their poll of choice. I don’t know if you all have read this bill, seen it or anything else, but you need know of these ideas that are floating about out here as we begin to talk about voter ID and the others because I think they all work together and they’re all for the same purpose. Basically this one says, if a student votes at college, their parents can’t take them as a deduction on their income tax. Interesting concept. Another one here, we have worked over the years to try to allow young people to register to vote, actually if their going to be eligible to vote in General Election, we let them go ahead and vote in the primary and register and do those things early, well we’re not going to let them do that anymore. They’re going to have to wait until they’re 18, just make it more difficult for them to get in. We’re going to away with one stop registration, which I think it assists a lot of people, it assists people moving for one thing and it assists particularly young people who may designate a polling place other than their primary residence of their parents. There’s an interesting thing in here, apparently were turning poll observers into intimidators now. There is a whole section in here that says you have to let an observer have free run of the polling place so he can be in hearing distance of the people when they’re checking their registration and that kind of thing. It prescribes penalties for the person running the polling place if they in any way interfere with that person doing that. I think it’s important to get all these bills out here, I know speaker Tillis wants to talk about voter ID and I think when we’re talking about voter ID we need to talk about all these other things too. This is all obviously part of a plan to disenfranchise voters and I can’t help but observe that the national level the Republican Party is doing an autopsy which declared in bed is 4 0’clock. They were disliked by every group they asked, they trying to reinvent themselves at the national level and the observation has been made that North Carolina didn’t get the memo, by Republicans. I don’t know when they’ll understand at some point you got be nice to somebody if you want to continue to win elections. I guess they think that they can [gerrymandering] and pushing everybody out of their districts, but pretty soon you’ll run out of people. If they going to try to attack all the young people now and try to disenfranchise them, that isn’t going to work, those people are going to live a long time and they’re going to figure out how to vote. If I’m any predictor of young people, having raised a few, they’ll get madder than the people did in Florida and they’ll find a way to vote no matter what you do to them. They’re not going to be treated this way. So, I wanted to kind of get some of that out there, we want to talk today about the Democrat voting bills that we’ve put in, because we think it shows a totally different

Approach to the voters of this state and I also wanted to hopefully begin to get all of their voter bills on the table so when we're talking about the bills people can see the whole picture. I think they paint kind of a bleak picture. OK. Larry, I want to turn it over to you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Senator Nesbitt, and certainly I think you said it. It seems that instead of encouraging our voters to come to the polls and participate in their government and feel empowered, the story here is we're going to roll up the ladder so you can't get to the polling place and if you get there we're going to intimidate you into leaving or not voting. Now House democrats have filed a series of bills over the last few weeks to make sure that the right to vote for North Carolina citizens is preserved and protected. You know, it's probably the most important thing we do. As we look at our constitution the right, and really a responsibility for folks to vote is probably the most important thing but even on top of that we take an oath when we are sworn in to protect and defend that constitution and there's no more important right in that constitution than that right to vote and the citizens participation. If they participate in their government, they're going to feel part of it and it's going to be more responsive to them. So as an effort we put forward to say we're going to defend that right to vote. We're going to defend that constitutional right. We're going to discharge our duty, our oath that we swore to represent the people, and one of the things we decided to do is ensure that by filing voter empowerment legislation to defend that vote and put it in our laws, and one of the first things we did was to have online voter registration which would make it simpler and easier filing process for many folks who would want to register to vote. Additionally, we filed a bill, early voting on weekends. It was sponsored by Representative Farmer-Butterfield and Pierce that makes a minimum amount of early voting on the weekends. So it ensures there's a minimum amount of time available for folks to vote on the weekend. We have what is called our voter protection and integrity act and it guarantees registered voters will be able to vote at any authorized polling place. Again, all of these acts are designed to preserve that opportunity to vote and ensure that the citizens won't be turned away. They earned that right, they've paid their taxes, they've done the other things they were supposed to do and the least they could do is have the opportunity to vote without being impeded. Now, finally we have a voter improvement act, and it's a more comprehensive act and it improves the opportunities for people to vote in North Carolina and again encompasses some of the previously listed, but these four bills are bills that show that we believe in the people and we believe that they should be able to participate in the voting process. Now we've heard a lot from the governor saying he wants to improve customer service wherever he goes and if you get billed twice for driving on the turnpike or the fee expressway, toll road, he says well, we want to have customer service and make sure you don't get billed twice for that. Well, if we're concerned about double billing on the expressway, if we're concerned about long lines at the DMV, then why aren't we concerned about the most important thing? How about these lines at the polling place? Which the efforts of the republicans are going to do. If they reduce the amount of time you have to vote, if they reduce the number of places you can vote and certainly impose a poll tax, and Martin, I think that's definitely a poll tax, I don't see any other way to say it, that we're going to tax you if your children vote at another poll. We're going to charge you if your children decide to vote and they're not at the same poll. If that's not a poll tax, I don't know what is. Early voting in North Carolina has been a great success. The citizens say they like it, they vote it, that they like it and they want it based on their participation and so we see what is happening now, regardless of what party you're in, you should really want to be engaged by the electorate, you should want to hear from them and you should want them to participate. It validates you and what you do. The voting improvement act, and Representative Michaux is here to talk a little bit about it, will do a couple things that are very important and I want to have him say some words. Representative Michaux. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, in looking at just voter improvement all around, I'm sorry that the folks weren't

Able to get the gist of the gentleman from Florida yesterday who testified before the committee because I think he made some very salient points. But for essence, early voting in North Carolina has been a great success and it has worked well for the people. The example that the gentleman from Florida gave yesterday was that Florida had cut their early voting time back from 21 days to 8 days, and he is a ?? registrar here. He said they had a disaster, basically in Florida, and they were reworking their early voting because of the way the polls got crowded. One of the things though in the bill that we’re putting forward is to get our ?? match funds. Here was another thing that the gentleman from Florida brought up, when they got their funds from ??, that the instituted a voter database. And even though they have, in Florida they have voter ID, they can check those voter, if you go to the polls in Florida and you don’t have your ID, they can check, they will allow you to vote but they can check it within five minutes because of the database that has been built up in Florida. They did that with the ?? money that they got. Our state as you know last year refused to allocate a matching portion of those ?? funds. So there are a lot of things that these folks who are in charge right now are trying to do, to actually suppress the vote. Even their major project, their absentee ballots which favor them more, they’re trying to elongate that and shorten us on the other thing so it’s a well-worn path that they are treading here in order to suppress the vote in this state. The Voting Improvement that we’ve introduced and there are a couple more coming later on. One that’s going to make for instance the Election Day a holiday so that folks can have an opportunity to do that. But these are things that are coming out and we’re just trying to maintain that constitutional right that folks have to vote. The gentleman, the Secretary of State from Georgia yesterday who touted the voter ID and one of the last things he said was, “I have to use voter ID to go through an airport.” And my retort to him was, “You don’t have a constitutional right to go through the airport in Georgia. You’ve got a privilege to do that.” Anyway, that’s the way it is. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Representative Michaux. And I wanted to just give you all a little bit of history. I seem to be the historian around here now. When we did voter ID, we passed the bill, not voter ID, when we did early voting. We passed the bill initially and put a provision in that all the satellite sites had to be by unanimous decision of the local Boards of Elections. We went home and the Republicans had one out of three members on those boards and they immediately blocked every site in the state of North Carolina. So we came back down here and changed the bill to say if you can’t do it, then we’ll let the state board decide and they walked out of the House on that. That’s the only time I can ever remember a walk-out, but they did. So they hadn’t liked it from the beginning. But the good news about that is their people use it too. I think I saw the other day in that poll that 75% of the people had used early voting at one point or another. And you know, I mentioned this before, they’re running out of people to disenfranchise and they may be treading, they’re certainly treading on independence. They use it fairly dramatically and now I think they’re going to be treading on their own people a little bit. So some of this stuff’s going to come back to haunt them, I think. But with that said, we’ll answer any questions you’ve got about any of this stuff. Unfortunately it pretty well speaks for itself. Larry? Questions? Okay, thank you all for coming.