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Tillis’ Race Relations History: A Record of Racial Gerrymandering and Targeting African-Americans with “Surgical Precision”

As Speaker of the North Carolina House, Senator Tillis passed one of the “worst racial gerrymanders in the nation” that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and one of the country’s most restrictive voter suppression bills, a “monster” bill that was ultimately struck down by the courts for its unconstitutional efforts to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” 

Here is what the bill did:

  • Cut early voting
  • Ended same-day registration
  • Banned out-of-precinct voting 
  • Required a strict photo ID requirement

Writing on the bill, a federal court said, “neither this legislature – nor…any other legislature in the country – has ever done so much, so fast to restrict [voting] access.” Even as the court made clear the intent of the law, “Tillis led a GOP propaganda campaign to defend the legitimacy of the discriminatory law,” claiming voter fraud that he admitted was “not the primary reason” for the restrictive law. 

Here’s what people are saying about Senator Tillis’ record of voter suppression:

  • “In fact, Tillis for many years served as one of North Carolina’s chief architects of voter suppression.” [Facing South, 7/15/20]
  • “Senator Tillis’ legacy of voter suppression extends back to his days as Speaker of the North Carolina House. There, Thom Tillis passed some of the most extreme racial gerrymanders in history that, according to the U.S. Supreme Court which later struck them down, were meant to silence African-Americans. Black leaders agreed, calling Tillis’ maps “among the worst racial gerrymanders in the nation” and saying he and Republican lawmakers “engaged in systemic racism and cheated to win elections.” [Charlotte Observer, 8/2/20]
  • “Both (the voter ID law and Amendment One) raise questions about Sen. Tillis’ support of civil rights, as well as his judgment in allowing legislation that he was warned might be ruled unconstitutional.” [McClatchy, 7/29/16]