Are voting rights being cut down?

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 24:  Mavis Wilson looks over a sample ballot as she waits to early vote with her husband, Ron Wilson at Charlotte Mecklenburg University City Library on October 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over five million people have already voted in battleground states including Florida, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Mavis Wilson looked over a sample ballot as she waited to vote last week in Charlotte, N.C. –Brian Blanco/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — In the first week of early voting in North Carolina this month, the number of people who showed up to cast in-person ballots in Guilford County fell off a cliff.

Voters cast 52,562 fewer ballots, a decrease of 87 percent from the same weeklong period four years earlier, according to an analysis by Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.

The difference? In 2012, the county — where more than a third of the 517,000 residents are African-American and which gave President Obama 58 percent of the vote in 2012 — had 16 locations open for the first stretch of in-person early voting. This year, the Republican-controlled election board opened only one polling site for the first week of early voting — and the site was open two fewer days that first week.

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Civil rights advocates say what happened in Guilford County, the home of Greensboro, is part of a nationwide proliferation of largely Republican-led efforts, large and small, that discriminate against African-Americans, Latinos, and others at the ballot box.

Measures that make voting more difficult — new voter ID laws; rules that make it harder to register; and cuts in the number and hours of polling places — have popped up throughout the country, including in some areas with a history of disenfranchisement.

Read the complete story at BostonGlobe.com.

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