North Carolina Republican Bob Orr, formerly a member of the state Supreme Court, announced in an editorial published in The Charlotte Observer on Wednesday that after considering the history of the Reconstruction era, he no longer supports voter ID laws. "Opponents to voter IDs contend … that it's a voter suppression ploy by Republicans aimed primarily at black voters," Orr wrote. "While I'm still not convinced of the lurking evil of such a proposal, I've changed my mind on the issue."
Orr cites Ron Chernow's biography of President Ulysses S. Grant as being the major influence behind his change of opinion. "Chernow points out that while ex-Confederates were resentful over losing the war and their 'property' in the form of slaves, the real stick in their craw was that blacks now had the right to vote," Orr observes, adding that the book "traces the horror and violence that descended upon blacks in the South attempting to participate in the most basic of democratic institutions — the right to vote. In 1868, more than 2,000 blacks were killed in Georgia alone in efforts to suppress voting."
Orr writes that it wasn't until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that "the 15th Amendment began to seriously be fulfilled for black voters in the South." He concludes: "Is it any wonder then that our fellow citizens of African-American heritage are particularly sensitive when it comes to voting issues?" Read his entire op-ed on why he's changed his mind at The Charlotte Observer. Jeva Lange