How North Carolina Became Red Again

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 (The Root) -- One might shrug off the sweeping voting restrictions (pdf) approved last week in North Carolina as typical of a Southern state under Republican control. But look again: Unlike many of its neighbors, the Tar Heel State had been well down the path of progressivism for several years before the GOP shut it down during this year's legislative session.

Indeed, North Carolina had broken away from its regional neighbors by expanding access to the polls, which helped increase minority-voter turnout. A strong and steady flow of newcomers to the state brought more open-minded political views to bear on local elections. The state even recorded one of the nation's biggest populations of gay couples, with a whopping 118 percent gain reported in the 2010 census.

Some of the changes were occurring elsewhere in the South, but not to the degree of shifting the voting patterns of an entire state. In North Carolina, however, the lurch toward progressive politics has ended as quickly as it started, demonstrated by the state Legislature's passage of a conservative wish list that includes a draconian voter-ID requirement and the elimination or reduction of measures such as early voting.

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