August 24, 2013

Rachel Maddow Show, August 19

Ellie Kinnaird has taken all she can take, she can't takes no more:

When North Carolina Republicans passed perhaps the nation’s most restrictive voting law last month, they weren’t just making it harder for minorities, students, and other Democratic-leaning groups to vote. They also were eviscerating the legacy of one prominent progressive lawmaker.

“They’ve dismantled 17 years of my work,” Ellie Kinnaird, 81, told MSNBC Thursday afternoon, days after stepping down after ending her long career in the state Senate to devote herself full time to fighting the state’s hard-right lurch. “All those election laws that they removed, that was my work.”

The veteran Democratic legislator said she authored the bill that gave North Carolina among the most extensive early voting systems in the country, as well as a measure offering public financing of elections for state officials and judges. Kinnaird, a former mayor of Carrboro, near Raleigh, and a staunch liberal, said she also played a role in pushing a bill that allowed for same-day registration of voters, and another that created a popular program encouraging high-school students to pre-register.

“We were actually the most progressive in the country, and I take great pride in that,” Kinnaird said. “We’re now, sadly, going backwards and becoming a laughingstock of the country.”

Kinnaird is not going gently into that good night, though. She has decided that she can make more of a difference as a citizen activist. She is putting together a program to help seniors and college students navigate the draconian voter laws Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law:

A project Kinnaird is preparing will help voters get photo identification and remember their precinct, she said. Under a new law, voters must show a photo ID at the polls. Ballots cast by voters who go to the wrong precinct will be disregarded.

“What I want to do is try to remedy this radical agenda and work aggressively against this voter suppression,” she said. “I feel that is a serious step over the line. I want to make sure we undo that.”

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