If you’ll recall the ridiculous jockeying by states in 2012 to move their respective primaries earlier and earlier, don’t think 2016 will be much different until the parties get involved. North Carolina recently enacted a new voter identification law requiring a photo ID be presented before voting. The law also provides citizens of the state a photo identification at any DMV location free of charge if they don’t have one. Coupled with this law is a provision which declares that North Carolina’s primary must come shortly after South Carolina’s primary which, of course, conflicts with the existing natural order of election year primaries.
Report from Huffington Post:
North Carolina’s new voter ID law, signed and enacted by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) this week, requires the state’s voters to furnish identification at the polls and strips away a number of protections that guard against voter disinfranchisement. But that’s not all the new law does! It also threatens to add new kinks to the always kinky and frequently fraught calendar of 2016 presidential primaries.
As longtime readers know, the primary season calendar is already a pretty nonsensical mess. Four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — have won themselves the right to be “first in the nation.” As such, these states dominate the season, both in terms of the greater power they wield in determining the eventual nominee, and in terms of the media’s role in covering the primaries.
Now, the new North Carolina voter law pushes the Tarheel State into this mess, stipulating that the state’s primary must fall on “the Tuesday after the first South Carolina presidential preference primary,” in any year when South Carolina stages its primary before March 15th, which is every year.
American Hero and Frontloading HQ proprietor Josh Putnam helpfully provides some vital off-season explaining. Putnam points out that the Republican National Committee, which strives to keep order over the process, has rules stipulating that the early primary states are supposed to get a month between their primaries, before other states start holding primaries of their own. In 2012, Missouri briefly threatened to upset this applecart, but in the end it dialed back its ambitions and staged early, non-binding caucuses that were in compliance with party rules. But North Carolina’s law, as written, is out of compliance, and is practically courting the RNC’s “super penalty.”
Several topics to take apart in this story. The rise of new voter identification laws around the country may change the landscape slightly by disenfranchising certain groups or it may be simply a good idea in keeping integrity in our democratic system. How you view these laws tends to be determined by you’re own political beliefs.
The next issue of the primary calendar has been debated for years. Why do four states have such influence over national elections? There are always ideas floated to change the system but no one in power wants to rock the boat. Any thoughts on how to improve the primary process?