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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  August 22, 2013 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

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there's long form harder work that has to be done to addresses issues. >> vince warren, executive director of the center for constitutional rights. david sirota at msnbc contributor james peterson. thank you very much. that "all in" for this evening. the "rachel maddow show" starts live from north carolina, the frontline in the voting rights battle. good evening, rachel. good evening, chris. it's a beautiful night here. thank you, my friend. i appreciate it. thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. we're bringing you this show this hour from not our usual home base with way more mosquitos than are usually ever on my face. here's why we're on the road. the day before the '08 presidential election, the morning of the day before the election, presidential candidate barack obama that day got a phone call in the morning telling him that his grandmother had just died. she had died at the apartment in hawaii where he had lived with her for a time when he was a boy. he had been raised partially by
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his grandparents, by his mother's parents. he was very close to his grandparents. very close to his grandmother. this was the day before the presidential election in 2008 when she died. president obama took time that day to grieve on his own, then that night he came to north carolina just hours before the polls were due to open across the country. president obama did one last rally. a huge one. 25,000 people in the rain at the university of north carolina in charlotte. he talked about his grandmother that night. he said, she's gone home. she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side. he said, i'm not going to talk about her too long, because it is hard for me to talk about. so with hours to go until election day, presidential candidate barack obama, that night before the election in 2008, he stood in the rain in charlotte and he cried during his speech. and he gave liz closing argument for why he should be president of the united states. and it was a very powerful moment because of that raw,
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human emotion, but it was also a powerful political moment because here it was the night before a presidential election and it is a big deal that the democratic presidential candidate is making his closing argument to the nation from the south. and he could afford to do that because some of the south was within reach for him, and for democrats on election day. >> after decades of broken politics in washington, after eight years of failed policies from george w. bush, you don't need to boo, you just need your you just need to vote. after 21 months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky coasts of maine, to the sunshine of california, we are one day away from changing america. one day.
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>> the next day barack obama went on to win florida. he when on to win virginia. he went on to win north carolina. a democrat won in north carolina. bill clinton did not win north carolina either time. but barack obama did. he did. just barely. he won by a little more than 14,000 votes. that was the first time a democrat had carried north carolina in a presidential election since jimmy carter. the obama campaign thought the state of north carolina was within reach. they pumped $15 million into the state to try to win it and they won it. they won on the strength of some key voting groups in the state. for example, voters 29 and younger voted for barack obama 74% to 26%. look at the african-american vote in north carolina. black voters in the state went for barack obama 95%-5%. turnout in the '08 presidential election was up across the country. that, of course, was a big historic election. it drew lots and lots of attention. turnout in north carolina was
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way up. it was the largest increase in turnout anywhere in the country between the '04 election and '08 election was in north carolina, and it was not just a flash in the pan for that one election. north carolina had been on its way up for years at that point. it had been on its way up from the very, very bottom. back in the early 1990s, north carolina was at the very bottom. the state ranked 47th in voter participation. 47th out of 50. the state started making an effort to turn that around and by the 2000 presidential election, north carolina had risen from 47th in the nation to 34th in the nation in terms of turnout. and by 2008, they'd gone from 34th in the nation up to 2 1st in the nation. then in the last election by 2012, north carolina had risen all the way up to 11th in the country in terms of voter turnout. from 47th to 11th. north carolina cracked the code. when it came to voting. north carolina went from third worst in the nation to knocking on the door of the top ten. and they did it by making voting
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easier to do. they implemented early voting in 2000. they imp lechlemented same-day registration in 2008. north carolina was a voting success story. until it wasn't. all of those measures to improve voter participation in north carolina were signed into law by democratic governors. but in 2010, republicans had a plan to turn all that around. in the 2010 midterm elections, the elections that took place two years into president obama's first term, republicans basically ran the table, right? they painted the country red. and the opposition party, the party that's not in the white house always does well in the midterms. that's always the case. but in 2010, the opposition did spectacularly. republicans took back control of the house of representatives in washington. they picked up an astonishing 63 seats in the house. republicans that year also picked up six seats in the united states senate. whether republicans really cleaned up in 2010 was in the states. that year republicans won 680
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seats in state legislatures across the country, took control l of more legislative seats in the states than at any point since 1928. that happened that year and everywhere but where it really, really happened was in north carolina. the republican plan was to take over north carolina state legislature basically by brute political force. what they added to the national mix in north carolina was flooding the state with outside money. north carolina saw an unpress deb dented flood of money into state legislated races in 2010. not money going directly to candidates. it was money going to the supposedly independent groups that were, in fact, very obviously partisan groups. for the first time in anybody's memory, local democratic legislators who had held their seats forever basically were sudden by facing an onslaugt of cash from outside groups with all sorts of generic sounding names like real jobs n.c. and
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civitas action, those groups helping the republican side. the truly fascinating thing is almost all of the outside morning going to fund all of those annedinley named different groups, almost all of money was coming from one guy. his name is art. art pope. he's a multimillionaire conservative activist who inherited an empire of discount stores from his dad. art pope and his money have given so much money to republican causes in state of north carolina over the years that the party's state headquarters building is named after them. seriously. and in 2010, art pope and his family foundation and his business, they zeroed in specifically on the north carolina state legislature. three quarters of all the outside money that flooded into north carolina races that year came from accounts linked to this one guy. this one zillion their businessman. millions and millions and millions of dollars directed by this one guy. and it worked. of the 22 legislative races that were targeted by art pope that year, republicans took 18 of
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them. enough to turn the statehouse not just red, but completely red for the first time since just after the civil war. before the 2010 elections, the north carolina state legislature looked like this. democrats controlled both houses by pretty good margins. after election night 2010, it looked like this. boink. north carolina turned bright red. i mean, the whole country went red in 2010, but north carolina's red tide was like no other state. and in this most recent election, in 2012, republicans increased their margins. they gained a supermajority in both chambers of the legislature and just for good measure, a republican got the governor's mansion as well. for the first time since 1870, republicans had total control in north carolina. they controlled both houses of the legislature, and the governor's mansion. and they saw that as sufficient occasion to go absolutely hog wild. all of this pent up stuff, they'd always wanted to do. and who knew they wanted to do it. turns out north carolina
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republicans wanted to establish a state religion. that one came up right away. there was also the bill to ban sharia law in the state because apparently that was right around the corner here. they passed some of the most extreme abortion measures anywhere in the country. north carolina republicans passed a law allowing you to hunt with a silencer on your gun. because venison tastes better when the deer is not surprised. or something. i don't know. when it came to the state's budget, north carolina republicans forced through deep enough cuts to public education, to scare everybody else in the country. they passed a tax reform bill that slashes the corporate tax rate, that eliminates the e state tax for the very richest people in the state, that shifts more of the tax burden in the state on to the poor and on to the middle class. the guy who's now in charge of those sorts of things in north carolina, the state's budget director, is our friend, art. none other than the multimillionaire republican benefactor who helped make all of this possible. art pope after essentially buying the government that he
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wanted, art pope now is the government. now in terms of insulating themselves from the political costs of doing stuff like this and going this fast, there were things that could be done about that, too. as i said, the 2010 midterm elections were great for republicans in north carolina because that was a census year. their victories that year gave republicans a chance to redraw the congressional districts in the state to their advantage. so in the 2012 election this past november, get this. most north carolina voters when they voted, november 2012, 51% of north carolina voters voted that they wanted a democrat to represent them in congress. democratic candidates got 81,000 more votes than republican candidates did for congress in north carolina in 2012. of the 13 congressional seats in the state, republicans took nine of them. what? thank you, redistricting. so gerrymandering districts like that, you know, it works for a while. that can take you pretty far. we only have a census year every ten years, right?
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but the bigger problem is the pesky problem of turnout. i mean, voter turnout that's getting this much better, this faster, that's not good for the republican party. they count on low turnout elections to lock up their gains. voter turnout getting that good that fast, that is not good. the most potent part is the minority vote in the state. problem is young people, too. really, really the most potent part of that problem is the minority vote for republicans. so the last two days of the legislative session in north carolina this year were devoted to a complete overhaul of voting rights in the state. and that is why we are here. that is why we are here in beautiful elizabeth city, north carolina, right now. the gateway to the outer banks. tucked up into the northeastern corner of the state. because here it is clear as day, here it is starting in some ways, and here it is a tale of two schools. i spent most of the day today at elizabeth city state university where they have 2,500 students, give or take.
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elizabeth city state is a historically black college. it's still mostly african-american. the university named after elizabeth city is a big part of this relatively small town, but elizabeth city does have another four-year school here. the other one is called mid-atlantic christian university. used to be called roanoke bible. it's a much smaller school. it's private, religious, mostly a white school. like the historically black school across town, mid-atlantic christian is a civic-minded place. every year they hold a voter registration drive so students can register to vote from school and the school shuttles them downtown to polling places. it's a priority for the school. they take it seriously. >> i think it's important for us to be involved with our local community as well as national issues when we have presidential elections. so we're responsible as citizens to be a part of what's going on in the world around us. >> in his seven years at mid-atlantic, vice president ken green says he's never known a student having a problem to
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register to vote or voting for the school. it's not a problem in atlantic christian. across town at elizabeth city state, students who try to vote from that school, they've been running into problems and kind of big ones. 2007, a local republican challenged the voting rights of 18 students at elizabeth city state at the historically black college. he said they didn't really live at the school. all of those challenges failed. then in november 2012, four students who voted in that election got their votes challenged, too. then a few months later in april 2013, there were so many challenges to elizabeth city state voters that the hearing lasted for hours. they challenged 60 voters that day, almost all of them students, at this mostly black college. 56 students had their names struck from the voting rolls in that round. and you know, you might say, why is this one school getting all these challenges while the other school in town says no problem? we're voting, we're never getting challenged and it's all okay. is it because one school is mostly black and the other one is mostly white?
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is it because one school is bigg bigger? because one school is more conservative? or is it just because of this guy? all those challenges to the student voters at the local historically black college were brought by one guy. his name is pete bigilbert, on e right, sitting at the table. he's going through students' names. student name after student name. if you've been registered to vote in recent years an encounter with him is likely for you. he lives in the same city ward that includes this historically black mostly african-american school. he says he challenges voters from that school specifically because that is his home precinct. elizabeth city state is on his turf. in north carolina, as that local republican has been trying to kick students off the rolls, he's relied on part of the law that lets you challenge people who vote in the same precinct as yours. the law also would have allowed him to challenge the student voters at the other school at
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the mostly white school across town, just not during an election. if he'd wanted to make a big deal out of questioning the christian school student voters, too, he very easily could have done that, but he just didn't. the county republican chairman has stayed focused on his own turf and on the black school in town. but whatever choices pete gilbert made as he went along for whatever reasons he made them, his turf now has gotten much, much bigger. he's now challenging the right of this elizabeth city state student to run for city council. he says because montravius king is a student, he can't really live in elizabeth city so he can't run for office here. this challenge happened this month here at the county board of elections. actually it happened right here in this exact room. >> a lot of people said -- >> yeah. mr. gilbert does have some black supporters in the dmucommunity,t this is still an issue triggering a lot of racial tension in the community. if i could, just, the way it played out over the better part
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of six or seven hours is mr. king and his attorney were here. mr. gilbert was there with his supporters. including mrs. myrick, a silent observer during the hearing. >> who's mrs. myrick? >> with the civitas institute. >> which is a conservative think tank. >> yes. they said her present was for her personal edification, i have nothing to refute that one way or the other. >> but she sat with mr. gilbert, the republican party chairman when he was issuing the challenge, essentially? >> yeah, he's had a lot of practice at this. the challenges were basically the same sort of arguments that he's been using over the last couple of years, so he certainly didn't need her assistance for this. >> this is a really interesting detail. the woman from art pope's think tank, the civitas institute, was in town that day here in elizabeth city as a silent
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observer to the challenge of this student to be able to run for office here. what was she there to see? she was not there to help. the local republican party chairman knows how to make these challenges. he's been doing it for years. he doesn't need any help from anybody. she's not there to help. she's there to learn? she there to see how this is done? how this might be done in the rest of the state? because this is what she saw that day. acrosses north carolina, republicans have just gained control of all the boards of elections for the first time in 20 years. big state elections board, county boards, republican control all of them because there's a republican who holds the governorship. the new republican majority in the local board here in this case didn't question whether montravius king lived at school for four years. that was not the issue. what they questioned was whether living at school is enough to make you a resident and they said it is not. and in making that decision, they accepted a legal framework for disqualifying students from voting in local elections. that's how reporter john hawley
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put it. he's talking about students at the black school in elizabeth city. this development could very well affect every student voter, every college, in the state. if that precedent was set, if what happened here in this room stands at the state level, the precedent is set that any full-time student in north carolina can't vote at school? >> it would certainly seem that way. >> if montravius king thought it would be hard enough running for local office, imagine what the pressure is like now. now that he has to win this case or beat the precedent. residency challenges are successful against you, there's no reason why the exact same z residency challenge wouldn't be successful against every on-campus student at every college in north carolina. >> uh-huh. >> if you lose this case, it's going to be a big deal. >> it really is. >> no pressure. >> it really is.
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yeah. >> no pressure. also merging while we're having this conversation. the pressure is on in north carolina for real. we spoke with pete gilbert this week, the republican county chairman here, asked him to sit down with us for an interview. he did not want to talk about us. what we wanted to know is whether he still intends to take this show on the road as he has said, about challenging student voting rights across north carolina now that his plans are receiving so much national attention. does he still want to take this show on the road and do this all across the state? he tells us he's waiting for montravius king's appeal to the state board of elections. at the state board of elections the new republican chair there is urging the newly republican local boards to cool it. try to get along with everybody. he also says they're independent and they're appointed by the governor and left to fly. and if the county republican chairman, if the pete gilberts of the state decide to go for it, north carolina republicans have made that much, much
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easier. under north carolina's old elections law, you could only challenge a voter's eligibility to vote, you could only challenge somebody's residency, registration if that person lived in the same county. under this law, any voter, anywhere in the state can go anywhere in the state and challenge the registration of any other voter. you want to block all the students from voting at your local historically black college? or the college where maybe they just vote too liberal? give it a go. the field is now wide open. give it a try. worked here. at least it's worked here so far. supporters of voting rights are now suing in federal court over that part of the new law. but the other defense of voting rights is just beginning to happen right here in elizabeth city and that is what we came here today to see. >> i've learned one thing, but the bravery and the foolishness of the youth is not something to be toyed with. discover the new way to help keep teeth clean and breath fresh.
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some question gravity. and some... even have the audacity to question improbability. with best-in-class towing and best-in-class torque these are some of the bold, new ram commercial trucks -- built to blow your imagination. guts. glory. ram. so the auditorium is used by the elections board, but it's kind of next door? >> yeah. traditionally, when the challenge hearings are held, there's just not enough room in the board of elections office, so they borrow the space that the american red cross generally offers to them. >> can we go in? >> yes, please. >> over the better part of six or seven hours, this is where the hearing was held. >> this is where the hearing was held where they challenged montravius' residency whether he
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could run? >> yes, sis is also where the april challenges against students were held. one of the first things you notice about the room was that it was divided along black and white lines. part of that is local personalities, of course, people just not getting along with each other. but it was a very stark thing that people noticed. >> just people sat -- white people sat on one side, black people sat on the other? >> yeah. mr. gilbert does have black supporters in the community, but this is an issue triggering racial tension in the community. usually they're humdrum, boring meetings as you might expect. but, of course, they've been garnering a lot more interest as of late. i'm going to try to make sure to go to all of them from now on. >> please do. please do. we're counting on it. the grounds on which this seems like an important national story, and not just a fascinating local drama, is the extent to which this could be a precedent. i mean, if at the board of
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elections level, here in elizabeth city, they're saying, you know what, if you live on campus, you don't live here, you don't live in this town. you may be at elizabeth city state university, but you are not in elizabeth city for the purpose of voting. if that is is not just alleged, but confirmed by the board of elections, and, indeed, if that is is confirmed by the state board of elections which they're appealing to, that has the effect, that would have the effect, if it's precedent, of saying that no full-time student living on cam pause anywhere in north carolina has the right to vote there. wouldn't it? >> that would certainly set up the argument. to be clear with mr. king's case, his candidacy was the only issue explicitly debated to date. >> but the criteria for being allowed to get your name on the ballot to run and the criteria to vote are the same cry tier wra. >> yes, so it could set up the precedent -- it just seems logical if you accept that, well, dormitory is inherently temporary for candidacy
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purposes, they would also be inherently temporary for voting purposes. >> local officials here, mr. gilbert, in particular, against montravius running for office, they plan to use the same tactic not to suppress people's right to run for office, but students' right to vote? >> mr. gilbert has been somewhat reluctant to detail what he wants to do going forward. he did, of course, tell the "associated press" i want to take my show on the road. in subsequent interviews i asked, does that mean seminars? do you coach other county boards? what happens from here? head hasn't really gotten into that question, and the level of scrutiny this is drawing is something that i think would be fair to say is surprising to him. but there -- it's only logical that this precedent would spread if it is upheld.
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>> if -- that's what makes it a big deal. that's what makes this a big deal story. if that precedent was set, if what happened here in this room stands at the state level, the precedent is set that any full-time student in north carolina can't vote at school. >> it would certainly seem that way. it's my understanding that the state board has not yet set a hearing date for mr. king's case. >> yeah. >> they -- they don't have to set a firm date as best i understand it according to state law, but they, of course, are strongly encouraged to ex-p ed the matter, organize to an attorney from the southern coalition. >> tick, tick, tick. it's not too long before the elections are going to happen. >> our elections -- said he's hold off printing the ballot as long as he can to make sure there's some sort of resolution for this. but obviously it's kind of hard for mr. king to run for office and defend this at the same
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time. bringing finality to this soon would be an important thing. >> absolutely. john hawley with the "daily advance." thank you. i appreciate this chance to talk to you about this. your reporting really has been indispensable. i'll say, wherever you are anywhere in the country, you have a local newspaper. you've been annoyed going to their website and realizing everything is behind a pay wall now. it's because you need their money and you should subscribe for them. me, the "daily hampshire gazette." i pay to get behind the pay wall. get behind your local paper. so guys like john can report on things like this. seriously. do it. her up. yeah, we can make room. yeah. [ male announcer ] space. yes, we're loving this communal seating. it's great. [ male announcer ] the best thing to share? a data plan. at&t mobile share for business. one bucket of data for everyone on the plan, unlimited talk and text on smart phones. now, everyone's in the spirit of sharing. hey, can i borrow your boat this weekend? no.
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we're live at elizabeth city, north carolina, tonight. north carolina is a big place. about 350 miles west of here is boone, north carolina, and watauga county, the home of appalachian state university. 17,000 students. more than 2,000 employees. in the 2012 election, watauga overall voted for mitt romney for president barely by about 800 votes in the whole county. the three boone precincts where appalachian state is, those precincts voted heavily for president obama, 60%-35%. the districts that include lots of students and faculty there, they're a very blue part of that county and very blue part of this state. last monday the newly republic an-controlled watauga county board of elections held an
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unexpectedly heated special meeting where they said they were going to e liliminate two the three voting precircumstanc boone. a large change for thousands of people there who may someday wan to vote. >> voting on campus is convenient. vote in between classes. vote whenever you want to. oost ea it's easy, simple. >> as resident of the county and as someone who i work on campus, i usually early vote. part of it is a question of convenience, clearly. i think i've pretty much always early voted. >> appalachian state university ranks as the number one employer in watauga county. it makes sense to vote on campus and to be a polling place on campus. >> right. voting is supposed to be easy. so more people can exercise their right to do it. so where did the local board of elections decide to reroute all those thousands of voters in
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boone, north carolina, to do their voting? they rerouted them down this long road that opportunity have a sidewalk. which is nowhere near a bus stop. but which does exist in vague proximity to a bus route which uses the smallest buses they have in the local transit system. it's called the gold line. check it out. >> the bus will pick up from the library circle every 30 minutes, and it's about halfway down the route, so from the route to the library circle, and from the library circle, is about 15 minutes each. if there's too many people on the bus and they can't accommodate the students, they'll leave the students behind. and, you know, depending on my school schedule, depending on when i can catch the bus, it can make it really difficult for me even to get on the bus, you know, let alone other students as well. >> good luck getting a seat. you want to see the bus schedule for the route that takes you to the voting place? ta- ta-da! it's down there in the corner. welcome to the small print part
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of step one of the new dangerous million-step process we have newly instituted for you to exercise the right that used to be really easy. let me emphasize, though, even if you do get on that bus, the bus stop closest to the new mega precinct for 9,000-something people is not at the mega precinct exactly. oh, whoops, there it is, that's it, bye, stop the bus. wear some sturdy shoes, intrepid voters. you're going to need them. >> got to be careful. this right here, this median or shoulder, actually, i'm sorry, is the sidewalk. there is no other place to walk, so it's either this median -- or this shoulder or the tall grass. this is not a sidewalk at all. you see here we actually have to step on the road. in my shoes i'm wearing would not work with this at all. it's really not in good condition. it puts me very close to the road. and it's pretty much just not a good place to walk at all. i can currently put my feet
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forward and that's it. and it's getting smaller as we go. yeah, this is agricultural conference center right here. >> okay. >> and do note that if you look, how small the parking lot is. >> wow. >> yeah. >> yes, parking. be advised the ag center where you'll have to vote, you 9,000-plus voters, your new voting locale has roughly 30 parking spaces. because it's going to be the only place in boone to vote, about 20 of those 30 parking places will be taken up by the election workers. maybe be ready to hover for a while i guess while you're missing class and/or work. this is how it works. if you don't want to go through the elizabeth city-style hassle of overtly disqualifying voters, just make it so difficult for them to vote you can be pretty darn sure they won't. >> students also tend to work in
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addition to taking classes. how much time they have available on a tuesday for voting. >> it's a nonpart stan issue. i've seen friends from both sides of the political sphere saying, i'm concerned about what's happening, i want to vote on campus, it's convenient. i don't have time to walk to the agricultural conference center. >> our students make a large part of what boone and watauga county are, and to deny them the right to participate in politics here is unconscionable. i just -- i think it kind of completely denies the very vital role that they play. >> unconscionable, the assessment of the local political science professor. as for the nonpartisan part, for the record, we tried to contact the appalachian state student republican leadership. they did not get back to us but offered this statement on a subject to a reporter. "the appalachian state college republicans view the decision regarding voting locations as a
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simple change. we'll easily adapt. given the new polling place's close prox imsy to campus, this change will in no way keep students from voting." all very nonpartisan. i got it. are changing hands online. that's why hp built a new kind of server. one that's 80% smaller. uses 89% less energy. and costs 77% less. it's called hp moonshot. and it's giving the internet the room it needs to grow. this&is gonna be big. hp moonshot. it's time to build a better enterprise. together.
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filner will reportedly finally step down as mayor tomorrow. as part of a deal to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and mass i scandal. that has been a long time coming. in egypt, former president hosni mubarak was freed from prison in cairo today. he was flown by helicopter to a military hospital in cairo where he'll remain under house arrest. and the department of justice today announced they will sue the state of texas in order to stop texas' voter i.d. law. the justice department says it plans its challenge under the part of the voting rights act that was not gutted by the supreme court earlier this summer. in a statement, attorney general eric holder said this represents the department's latest action to protect voting rights but will not be our last. the federal government is going to wade into texas to stop what texas is going on voter suppression. if the administration says texas won't be the last place that happens, what will be the next place that happens? north carolina's new move s fwes voting rights are called the most radical state-wide changes
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since the voting rights act was passed in 1965. does north carolina need federal intervention in order to protect its citizens' right to vote in joining us now, congressman g.k. butterfield, represents elizabeth city where we are tonight. he's a former voting rights attorney, himself. former north carolina supreme court justice. congressman butterfield, thank you for being here tonight. >> thank wow. thank you for having me. >> how do you explain what's happening in your state? north carolina is a southern state with a pretty progressive history especially on these issues. what's happening? >> first of all, rachel, let me thank you very much for coming to the region to report on this very sad story. everything that you have said over the last 30 or 40 mn minutes is absolutely correct. it's an embarrassment for our state. we're not that kind of state. down through the years we've. a progressive state. the republicans have been locked out of government in north carolina for many years. this is their power grab, their opportunity to seize power.
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there were three things standing in their way up until recently. first of all, they didn't control the legislature, didn't have governor's mansion. they had section 5 of the voting rights act standing in their way. president obama had an unexpected victory in north carolina in 2008. we were so proud of that. after president obama's victory, they were determined to seize p power. 2010 they won the state legislature. 2012, governor mccrory was elected. june 25th, the u.s. supreme court declared section 5 could not be enforced because of the coverage formula. now with those three obstacles out of the way, the republicans are now going full throttle, they're doing everything within their power to seize control of this state. they recognize, as you reported, only way they're going to be able to maintain power in this state, is to diminish and to dilute african-american votes in north carolina. the african-american vote has been the margin of victory for the democratic pear, and this is all about suppressing the black
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vote. we see right through it. we know exactly what's happening. that's why i called on attorney general eric holder to not only consider suing the state of texas, which he did today, but to bring a section 2 lawsuit in north carolina. there is intentional discrimination ongoing and certainly has a discriminatory effect. >> as a longtime legislator and somebody with the judicial background you have, do you think the justice department will do that? do you expect they will? >> i certainly hope so. i spoke briefly with the attorney general before i left washington the other day about that. he is well aware of what's happening in north carolina. i encouraged eric holder to move some of the attorneys from the section 5 unit over to the section 2 unit so we can litigate more of these cases. north carolina is right for r this type of case. there is no question we could successfully prove in north carolina intentional discrimination as well as discriminatory impact. we've got to move in north carolina, show republicans you just don't reverse 30 years of progress with the stroke of a pen. >> when these county election
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boards are making the kind of decisions they are, closing the appalachian state voting precinct and combining those precincts, here at elizabeth city challenging the right of a student to run for office, which is the same right he would need to be able to vote here. do you think the counties are freelancing or do you think this is a larger plan? >> well, it's disgusting to say the least. i don't believe it's a local plan of the pasquotank republican party. i think this is connected to the state and national republican committee. this is a national plan to disenfranchise voters for political advantage. i know it. the people of the region know it. we're going to do everything we can to stop this overreach from the republican party. >> congress nan g.k. butterfield, representing elizabeth city, north carolina, which has been so hospitable to us today. thank you so much, sir. a pleasure to have you here. thank you. all right. there is a place nearby here called the great dismal swamp. best place name in the country as far as i'm concerned. it turns out it is as wicked important as it is intimidatingly named, and that
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this is the "rachel maddow show" live from very near the great dismal swamp. hold on. we'll be right back.
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this is almost a best new thing in the world today. to get to elizabeth city, north carolina, today, i flew into virginia and got a ride with montravius king and crossed
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over. and just before we crossed over the virginia/north carolina border, i had a very "you're not from around here" moment, very embarrassing. >> interesting. >> well -- welcome to the countryside. in virginia. >> i was like okay, and then we filmed a plane crash on the highway. no, no, crop dusting, very nice. welcome to the countryside, new york city. more from elizabeth city in just a moment. [ male announcer ] staying warm and dry has never been our priority. ♪ catering to the conveniently located has never been our priority. our priority is, was and always will be serving you, the american people. we get to see everyone in america almost every day. and we've noticed that you're sending and receiving
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or blood thinners may increase bleeding risk. severe liver problems, some fatal, were reported. signs include abdominal pain and yeowing skin oes. tell your doctor about all your medicines, including those for migraine and while on cymbalta, call right away if you have high fever, confusion and stiff muscles or serious allergic skin reactions like blisters, peeling rash, hives, or mouth sores to address possible life-threatening conditions. talk about your alcohol use, liver disease and before you reduce or stop cymbalta. dizziness or fainting may occur upon standing. take the next step. talk to your doctor. cymbalta can help. so you're from north carolina, originally? >> yes, i'm born and raised in eastern north carolina. small town, you know where greenville is, right? east carolina, we studied there for a while. >> so growing up in eastern north carolina, is that part of why you decided to go to elizabeth city? >> well, part of the reason i
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decided to go to elizabeth city is because of my godmother, she is a retired educator, she went to elizabeth city back in the 'sees. and she took me on a tour of elizabeth city. as a matter of fact, she pulled out the red carpet. she brought me and about three of my friends up there in a stretch limo. >> you're kidding. >> yeah, she told me, she said you are going here. now, i wanted to go to moorehouse, but she said this is where you're going at. >> wow. >> and sure enough, i ended up going to elizabeth city state university. and i'm really glad i made that decision. >> how about your friends in the limo, did they all end up there, too? >> they went to other places. >> she had the most leverage with you? >> yeah, she did. >> elizabeth city started the teacher's college? >> it started in 1881, this guy who was the first black
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legislator, first black county commissioner, he went on to found the school. >> and now, it is -- as a historically black school, it is mostly african-american, but it is diverse, right? >> that is right. it is mostly african-american, but it is every year, it gets more and more diverse. >> when you drive to elizabeth city from the nearest airport in norfolk, virginia, you drive past the place i would put up against any other place i know, forget badlands, when you drive from norfolk and you cross the state line from virginia into north carolina down to elizabeth city, you go through dismal swamp, dismal swamp, the great park, it was dug by slaves, terrible conditions, they finished it. it was opened by 1805. by the time the civil war rolled
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around 18 years later, that was the life blood for the confederacy. the union forces blockaded to stop the transportation during the civil war, that just made the south inland water ways absolutely priceless to the south. and at 1861 at the start of the civil war, elizabeth city did great, using the supplies to supply the confederate army. the union did not like that, in 1862, the union forces invaded and took over. they panicked the local forces there in elizabeth city that they set fire to most of the city to stop it from coming under northern control. although they put up a monument to the man who stopped it from total destruction by surrendering to the union forces. and elizabeth city stayed under the occupation of the union forces during the duration of
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the war. thanks to the great dismal swamp and its location, it was too valuable to them to think they could give it up. after more history of the time, elizabeth city saw the arrival of ambitious northerners, who assumed leading roles in the post-war development here. and that reconstruction gets us to north carolina, and black legislators, and one who in 1891 trained black educators to teach black students in this state. that was 1891. and elizabeth city state university has been through a few name changes since then, but it is still here. it survived. in the '60s, elizabeth city integrated the only public high school, they eventually tore it down. now elizabeth city is known for its huge coast guard presence, the naval air station here that
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used blimps to monitor the shipping canal looking for german u-boats, has evolved to make it a hub in the world of high tech blimps. because there are high tech blimps. and now the great dismal swamp is a park, and anybody arriving here gets free docking if space is available. it is a beautiful place, lovely. and the people are nice. but this place is on its way to nowhere. it is out of the way. you are not going to stumble upon it. and the fight being waged here in this out of the way beautiful place is actually a fight in some ways over lost ground. these are fights that are already supposed to have been won. students in the south, specifically black students in the south fought for and won the right to vote in past generations. but there has been slippage, and now in 2013, montravius king is not able to campaign for the


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