In Iredell, one less day for African-American voting

Justices decided North Carolina’s election laws illegally discriminated against African-American voters. So now they’re asking local election officials to target them instead.

Three years ago, the North Carolina legislature adopted a wide-ranging election law that significantly changed voter identification and early voting rules, as well as voter registration processes — changes that were specifically targeted, as federal courts later ruled, to suppress minority voting.

The July 2016 ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the state legislature’s changes, was seen as a victory for voting rights advocates. But in spite of the ruling, state Republican leaders have instead instructed county Board of Elections appointees to carry out as much of the original, overturned law as they can.

In Iredell County, at least one of those measures could have a negative impact on black voters.

The state GOP last weekend released a memo to partisan appointed members of county boards of election, which pushed them to restrict early voting hours, deny Sunday voting, and restrict voting access on college campuses. The Iredell County Board of Elections, which met this Tuesday, followed some of those instructions.

Based on the chart below, Iredell County citizens won’t have the opportunity to vote on Sundays — a ruling that disproportionately affects African-American voters.


The Art of Building Sand Castles

There's something existentially good about bringing your children to the beach. For so many of us, there's an unquiet pull toward the shore, something inside that beckons us to find the land's terminus, and I assure you the same measure plums a line in kids' hearts as well. 

The beach is a homing beacon, a pulse that corrects our attitudes, a constant. Even the first night, after we'd unpacked the van and made the inaugural supply trip and found a simple supper, even then, something compelled us to walk out on the pier, crossing the high tide below us in darkness, the somber fishermen, their night baited hooks lurking forty feet down, the sea gentle and present and lulling us, back and forth, over and over, transfixed.

A fellow plucked a baby shark from the murky sea. The pup flopped about on the pier's deck a bit until its new master, a grandfather who seemed preternaturally calm about handling even foot-long sharks, bare-handed it. My children gazed on as he pushed the hook back through and untangled his catch. "Want to touch him?" he asked. 

Thomas looked up at me, and Julia, casual as ever, stepped forward, her fingers running with the grain of the pup's scales. It was a classically composed specimen, speedy lines, its nose pushed over its jaws, a startling countenance even in miniature. Thomas joined in after determining the catch wouldn't, in fact, attempt to kill him. We saw another shark hauled up in our twenty minute walk down the pier and back; it might have been the same shark caught twice, maybe just a young, dumb bloke who was the only thing swimming around out there, the lure of another chunk of shrimp too good to pass up.


In a Different America

In a different America — not necessarily a better or perfect America, just a different one — our country’s reaction to Alton Sterling’s death at the hands of Baton Rouge police might be enough.

In a different America, we would awake to the news of Philando Castile’s death in Minnesota with the same shock we felt when another plane hit the Twin Towers, with the same feeling of dread when Robert Kennedy was killed, with the same feeling of helplessness when the bomb went off at the Boston finish line.

In a different America, the Republican House caucus would take up the matter of police brutality against African Americans, opening an investigation into this startling trend made public thanks to vigilant citizens and their cell phone cameras. Speaker Paul Ryan would gavel Congress into a special session so that our country might pause together in a moment of silence to remember Alton and Philando and their families, and others who unjustly died at the hands of justice and their families.