Amazon, Apple should avoid North Carolina over 'racist' voter ID plan, advocacy group says

Apple and Amazon are reportedly each considering North Carolina as an East Coast headquarters. But voting rights advocates, citing the state's new voter ID proposal, are trying to convince the tech titans to go elsewhere.

The bill, announced Thursday by the state's House Republicans, would establish a photo voter identification requirement in the state's constitution, the News & Observer in Raleigh reported.

But Color of Change, a civil rights organization, launched a campaign this week to pressure Apple and Amazon to push back against the voter ID bill, arguing that it discriminates against African-Americans.

“REJECT RACISM … Make your Raleigh campus contingent on EQUAL RIGHTS for ALL your employees … Vote NO on racist voter ID laws!” the advocacy group says in an ad.

Two years ago, federal courts struck down a North Carolina voter ID law that was passed in 2013, hence this year's effort by the House GOP to make the new bill a constitutional amendment, Think Progress reported.

The U.S. Supreme Court said last year that the law targeted African-Americans "with almost surgical precision,” the report said.

Apple and Amazon have been looking at Raleigh, the state capital, for possible additional headquarters, Think Progress reported.

Brandi Collins-Dexter, senior campaign director for Color of Change, told the News & Observer that it's time for companies to "show that disenfranchising the black vote should be bad for business."

“We see this as a war that has been waged on these communities," she said.

The giant tech companies would bring billions of dollars in investments and as many as 60,000 jobs, Forbes reported.

Ironically, setting up shop in Raleigh could help with Amazon’s search for a diverse board director, as the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill make up a combined population that is 22 percent black, nearly double that of the national black population, Forbes reported.

William Matthews, who grew up in North Carolina, also launched a petition calling on Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook, the CEOs of Amazon and Apple, to “say no to North Carolina’s racist attacks on voting rights,” according to Think Progress.

State House Speaker Tim Moore is the lead sponsor on the voter ID bill.

Moore called the photo ID requirement a “common sense measure to secure the integrity of our elections system,” the Charlotte Observer reported in an editorial. He said it’s needed because “protecting our democracy should be one of lawmakers’ highest priorities.”

However, the state Board of Elections released an extensive and objective audit of the 2016 election that found that out of almost 4.8 million votes cast, only one fraudulent vote probably would have been avoided with a photo voter ID law, the Observer’s editorial said.

A University of California at San Diego study found that “strict photo identification laws have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, and mixed race Americans in primaries and general elections,” the Atlantic reported last year.

In the new voter ID amendment, it is not clear if student IDs or utility bills would count, and legislators would release the details after voters pass it, the Observer editorial reported.