Tea Party Voter Intimidation Alleged in North Carolina Early Voting

September 25, 2012 | | The Grio |

North Carolina, a key battleground state in the forthcoming presidential election, is likely to continue to be in the media spotlight over the coming weeks, says a prominent professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC).

It is hard to see Romney win the election without a victory in the state, says Professor Ferrel Guillory, a political expert from UNC. “It’s not as essential for Obama but by contesting in North Carolina he broadens the electoral map.”

In fact, the Romney campaign is pouring resources into what political observers consider a must-win state for the Republicans. Luther Snyder, a Republican political consultant in the state, commented in an interview with NPR, that in all the years he has covered elections he has never seen this amount of money or resources.

In 2008, Obama carried North Carolina by fewer than 14,000 votes, making him the first Democrat to win the state since 1976. Today, despite higher than average unemployment rates, North Carolina is poised for another close race, says Guillory. “The victory margin [for Obama or Romney] is likely to be a few thousand votes and anything can be the deciding factor.”

Recent polls generally suggest the race in North Carolina is extremely close.

With so much at stake, it is easy to see why political pundits, electoral groups and civil rights activists, are keeping a close eye on the electoral process in crucial swing states, like N.C.. Indeed, one of the main talking points ahead of the election has been the controversial new voter identification laws, as well as strategies used by conservative groups to scrutinize the validity of registration rolls and voters who turn out at the polls.

Civil rights activists and other groups argue that many of these tactics are at best a waste of time, since there is little evidence that voter fraud is a widespread problem. At worse they are viewed as a weapon to disenfranchise and intimidate voters, particularly minorities and the poor, who tend to vote for the Democrats.

A report, for instance, released this month by voting rights groups Demos and Common Cause says robust enforcement of voter protection is needed to prevent attempts to obstruct North Carolina voters from casting their ballot. The study, “Bullies at the Ballot Box” claims Tea Party groups like True the Vote are reportedly seeking to recruit one million volunteers to object to the qualifications of voters in targeted communities in the run up to and on Election Day.