Federal court finds NC voter ID law discriminatory

"We can not ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history", the USA 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling.

The law required voters who appeared in person to present a form of photo ID, like a driver's license, a passport or a military ID.

The appeals court also blocked the state from making changes to rules involving early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and preregistration. "Early voting will run October 20 through November 5, and same-day registration will be available at early voting sites".

The law was challenged by voting rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department. The 4th Circuit saw through this bald attempt to hide behind false claims of voter fraud and turned back the state's attempt to take advantage of a weakened Voting Rights Act to manipulate voting laws and keep certain populations from voting in order to maintain their own power.

Opponents of the law, lead by the state NAACP, asked the three-judge panel to reverse a lower court ruling that upheld the voting rules.

"This is a strong rebuke to what the North Carolina General Assembly did in 2013". In North Carolina, restriction of voting mechanisms and procedures that most heavily affect African Americans will predictably redound to the benefit of one political party and to the disadvantage of the other. North Carolina is an important "purple" state that could go either way.

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The three-judge panel was not quite unanimous.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, said in an interview that the ruling was a powerful victory for civil rights and for democracy. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) issued a joint statement in response to the ruling.

North Carolina legislators imposed the photo ID requirement, curtailed early voting and eliminated same-day registration and voters' ability to cast out-of-precinct provisional ballots in their home counties.

The lawsuit argues that because candidates for nine seats on the Texas Supreme Court and nine seats on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are elected statewide, minority voters - and Hispanics in particular - are thwarted from selecting candidates of their choice in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Proponents of the law, including North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, say it is needed to guard against voter fraud. It's no surprise the court has ruled that the Republican General Assembly is once again guilty of government overreach. The state's board of elections said the law's voting rules would not be in effect in November, "absent alternative guidance from the courts".

"Counsel for the state are reviewing options on appeal". But the chances of that happening before the November 8 election appear slim.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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