Challenges to voter ID law put North Carolina at center of national battle (+video)
North Carolina Gov. McCrory defended the new voter ID law as 'common sense' and popular, but two lawsuits in federal court say the measures will discriminate against African-American voters.
North Carolina has become the latest legal battleground over voter ID requirements and other election measures that critics say are being enacted to intentionally suppress the African-American vote.Skip to next paragraph
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The new law, signed Monday, requires voters to show a driver’s license or other government-issued ID before casting a ballot. It also shortens the period for early voting and eliminates the ability to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory called the new measure a “common sense law” that he said was supported by a significant majority of the state’s residents.
Others attacked the new measure as an attempt to undermine minority voters’ clout.
Two lawsuits filed in federal court charge that the election changes will have a disparate and discriminatory impact on African-American voters.
The new law “will cause the denial, dilution, and abridgement of African-Americans’ fundamental right to vote,” according to a 32-page complaint filed by the North Carolina NAACP on behalf of minority voters in the state.
The legal papers were submitted shortly after Governor McCrory, a Republican, signed the voter ID bill into law.
A second lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights and voting groups, does not mention the voter ID provision. Instead, that suit seeks to block other portions of the law that reduce early voting and end same-day voter registration in North Carolina.
“Today’s lawsuit is about ensuring that all voters are able to participate in the political process,” Allison Riggs, of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said of the ACLU lawsuit.
“Taken together, the new restrictions in this law will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters,” she said in a statement.
They want federal judges not only to block implementation of the new voter ID law but also to find that the level of discrimination in voting is so egregious that it justifies ordering North Carolina to submit every future election change for pre-approval in Washington.
Lawyers challenging redistricting in Texas are using the same legal tactic, asking the court in San Antonio to find that Texas engaged in intentional discrimination during its recent redistricting process. Such past discriminatory conduct justifies judicial imposition of the VRA’s pre-clearance regime, they say.