The Rev. William Barber and the group Color of Change are asking Apple and Amazon to reject North Carolina as a potential expansion state unless lawmakers abandon plans for a constitutional amendment that would require voters to present a photo ID.
The tech giants are each considering sites in North Carolina for major expansion projects. Groups opposed to a voter ID law are calling on Apple and Amazon to make clear their position on the proposed amendment, which is expected to be voted on this week.
Opponents say voter ID requirements are designed to suppress black turnout. (Studies have found that blacks and other minority groups are less likely to have photo identification.) Proponents say Voter ID is needed to combat voter fraud.
In an op-ed column published June 21 in The News & Observer of Raleigh, Barber, former head of the North Carolina NAACP, and Rashad Robinson, who directs Color of Change, said Apple and Amazon have a “clear choice.”
“They can stand by their stated values or they can stay the course of enabling the N.C. General Assembly as they re-enact Jim Crow-style voter suppression in the state,” the two men wrote.” Make no mistake, history will remember how our leading companies chose to condone or condemn the rolling back of civil rights laws across our country.
Barber and Robinson contrasted the silence of Apple and Amazon to the swift action taken by the ABC television network to fire actress Rosanne Barr after she posted a distasteful (and some say racist) tweet about Valarie Jarrett, a top advisor in the Obama White House.
“The parallel to Roseanne Barr is striking,” the men wrote. “We can only hope that in the case of racist policy, as well as racist rhetoric, the public, the media, and powerful corporations are just as willing to take a stand.”
Barber and Robinson called the allegations of voter fraud “a lie” that has been repeated to enact a racist voter-ID laws across America. (An audit by the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement found only one case of voter fraud in North Carolina during the 2016 election. That was out of 4.8 million ballots cast.
If approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate, the proposal would be placed on the ballot for voters in November.
The proposal marks the second time that North Carolina Republicans have tried to enact a voter ID law. A 2013 proposal was thwarted by a federal court that struck down a broad package of election-law changes.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found the proposed changes unconstitutional, saying they targeted African American voters “with almost surgical precision” and were “enacted with racially discriminatory intent.”
Groups opposed to amending the state constitution — NAACP, Democracy North Carolina, League of Women Voters, AARP, North Carolina Justice Center and Common Cause North Carolina, among others — have all said requiring photo ID would cause more problems than the change is worth. Color of Change has enlisted help from North Carolina musician and advocate William Matthews, who has launched a campaign called Reject Racism.