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Cross posted from The Carolina Mercury, here's a collection of stories, media, resources and reaction from today's announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice that it is suing the state over recent changes to elections law.

[You can read the federal lawsuit here.]

Link to the video of the press conference today at the U.S. Department of Justice via WRAL

WRAL — Government to sue NC over voter law

From the remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder on today's Justice Department's action against North Carolina:

The North Carolina law includes troubling new restrictions, such as provisions that will significantly reduce early voting days; eliminate same-day registration during early voting; impose a restrictive photo identification requirement for in-person voting; and prohibit the counting of otherwise legitimate provisional ballots that are mistakenly cast in the right county, but in the wrong precinct. The Justice Department expects to show that the clear and intended effects of these changes would contract the electorate and result in unequal access to participation in the political process on account of race.

By restricting access and ease of voter participation, this new law would shrink, rather than expand, access to the franchise. And it is especially troubling that the law would significantly narrow the early voting window that enabled hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, including a disproportionally large numbers of minority voters, to cast ballots during the last election cycle. Allowing limits on voting rights that disproportionately exclude minority voters would be inconsistent with our ideals as a nation. And it would not be in keeping with the proud tradition of democracy that North Carolinians have built in recent years.

Via the Department of Justice release:
The United States’ complaint contends that at least four provisions of House Bill 589 were adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The complaint asks the court to prohibit North Carolina from enforcing these requirements, and also requests that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. If granted, this would subject North Carolina to a new preclearance requirement.
Justice Department to File Lawsuit Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discriminatory Changes to Voting Law

Governor Pat McCrory's reaction continued to concentrate on the Voter ID portion of the law, but not the other sections singled out by the Justice Department. Via WRAL:

"I believe the federal government action is an overreach and without merit," McCrory said at a news conference. "I think it's obviously influenced by national politics since the Justice Department ignores similar laws in other (Democratic-leaning) blue states."

Cross posted from The Carolina Mercury with links, resources and reactions.

[You can read the federal lawsuit here.]

From the press conference today at the U.S. Department of Justice:

Link to the video of the press conference today at the U.S. Department of Justice via WRAL

WRAL — Government to sue NC over voter law

From the remarks by Attorney General Eric Holder on today's Justice Department's action against North Carolina:

The North Carolina law includes troubling new restrictions, such as provisions that will significantly reduce early voting days; eliminate same-day registration during early voting; impose a restrictive photo identification requirement for in-person voting; and prohibit the counting of otherwise legitimate provisional ballots that are mistakenly cast in the right county, but in the wrong precinct. The Justice Department expects to show that the clear and intended effects of these changes would contract the electorate and result in unequal access to participation in the political process on account of race.

By restricting access and ease of voter participation, this new law would shrink, rather than expand, access to the franchise. And it is especially troubling that the law would significantly narrow the early voting window that enabled hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, including a disproportionally large numbers of minority voters, to cast ballots during the last election cycle. Allowing limits on voting rights that disproportionately exclude minority voters would be inconsistent with our ideals as a nation. And it would not be in keeping with the proud tradition of democracy that North Carolinians have built in recent years.

Via the Department of Justice release:
The United States’ complaint contends that at least four provisions of House Bill 589 were adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The complaint asks the court to prohibit North Carolina from enforcing these requirements, and also requests that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. If granted, this would subject North Carolina to a new preclearance requirement.
Justice Department to File Lawsuit Against the State of North Carolina to Stop Discriminatory Changes to Voting Law

Governor Pat McCrory's reaction continued to concentrate on the Voter ID portion of the law, but not the other sections singled out by the Justice Department. Via WRAL:

"I believe the federal government action is an overreach and without merit," McCrory said at a news conference. "I think it's obviously influenced by national politics since the Justice Department ignores similar laws in other (Democratic-leaning) blue states."
WRAL — McCrory: Feds 'overreach' in voter law challenge

Statement from House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger:

Tillis, Berger Issue Joint Statement on Election Reform Law

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) issued the following joint statement today in response to the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit on North Carolina’s election reform law:

“The Obama Justice Department’s baseless claims about North Carolina’s election reform law are nothing more than an obvious attempt to quash the will of the voters and hinder a hugely popular voter ID requirement. The law was designed to improve consistency, clarity and uniformity at the polls and it brings North Carolina’s election system in line with a majority of other states. We are confident it protects the right of all voters, as required by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.”

Background
North Carolina’s election reform law guarantees anyone who wants to vote will have that opportunity. It establishes a list of valid government-issued photo IDs – including driver’s licenses, non-operator ID cards, tribal and military IDs and passports – that voters can present at their polling places. And it allows anyone without a valid photo ID to obtain one at no cost through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Polls have consistently shown that over 70 percent of North Carolinians support requiring voters to show photo ID.

The law guarantees at least the same number of overall hours for early voting as in previous elections, in sharp contrast to several other states – including New York, Massachusetts and Michigan – that do not allow early voting at all.

It allows time to verify voter information by repealing same-day registration, ensuring accuracy and bringing North Carolina in line with 30 other states that do not have same-day registration.

It outlines a gradual implementation timeline, beginning with the 2014 elections, for informing voters and enacting the photo ID requirement, until the law is fully enforced in 2016.

(Roundup from this morning)

United States Attorney General Eric Holder has scheduled a briefing this morning on a federal challenge to North Carolina's recently passed legislation that includes dozens of elections law changes, including stricter voter identification requirements, a shorter period for early voting, an increase in the ability for individuals and parties to challenge voters at the polls and the end of split-ticket voting.

Opponents of the law say the photo identification requirements, which were tightened from an earlier version after a Supreme Court ruling that lifted the state's preclearance requirements on voting law changes, are aimed at reducing turnout among African-American and younger voters.

As part of the lawsuit challenging the law Holder is expected to seek to put North Carolina back under preclearance requirements.

Here's a roundup of news stories on the federal challenge:

News & Observer — U.S. Justice Department suit aims to stop NC voter ID law

Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said he will fight state voting laws that he sees as discriminatory, will announce the lawsuit at noon Monday, along with the three U.S. attorneys from the state.
Politico — Justice Department to challenge North Carolina voter ID law
The complaint will allege that the law was passed with discriminatory intent and as part of a deliberate effort to deny African- Americans the right to vote, the source said. A North Carolina Board of Elections study in April of this year found that more than 300,000 registered voters in the state did not have a Department of Motor Vehicles-issued ID. African-Americans accounted for 34 percent of those who did not match with the DMV records, although they account for only about 22 percent of registered voters in the state.

DOJ moved in July to put Texas, which had been subject to preclearance statewide until the June Supreme Court ruling, back under preclearance requirements. That move came first in a pending lawsuit over redistricting in the state and later in another case over that state’s voter ID law.

WRAL & AP — Government to sue NC over voter law
In the North Carolina lawsuit, the person said, the government will challenge requirements in state law that eliminate the first seven days of early voting opportunities and eliminate same-day voter registration during the early voting period. Same-day registration allows voters to cast a ballot immediately after presenting elections officials with proof of their name and home address.

The Justice Department challenge also is aimed at a provision eliminating the counting of certain types of provisional ballots by voters who cast ballots in their home counties but do not vote in the correct precincts.

Finally, the federal government will challenge a provision in the new law that requires voters to present government-issued identification at the polls in order to cast ballots. In North Carolina, a recent State Board of Elections survey found that hundreds of thousands of registered voters did not have a state-issued ID. Many of those voters are young, black, poor or elderly.

Facing South - DOJ reportedly will sue NC over voter ID law
It is not yet clear what form or fashion Holder's legal challenge will come in, but he's expected to declare the voter ID law a violation of the Voting Rights Act. A few lawsuits have already been filed against it, including one co-signed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Southern Justice, another filed unilaterally by SCSJ, and one co-signed by the Advancement Project and the North Carolina NAACP state conference. The lawsuit filed by SCSJ alone argues that the law violates voting rights protections in the state's constitution, while the other two make claims under the federal Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. All of them take aim at the same VIVA provisions that Holder's legal challenge reportedly will target.
The New York Times - Justice Department Poised To File Lawsuit Over Voter ID Law
Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, said the department would “have a hard time proving constitutional or Voting Rights Act violations against North Carolina,” adding that proving intentional racial discrimination is difficult and “even though many minority voters are Democrats, discrimination against Democrats cannot be the basis for these voting claims.”
The Washington Post - Justice Department to Sue North Carolina Over Voting Law
Gov. Pat McCrory said the law will protect the integrity of the election process. He noted that voters will not be required to present a photo ID until the 2016 elections and insisted that the law was necessary to ensure that “no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot.”
The Huffington Post - DOJ To Sue North Carolina Over Voter ID Law, Voting Restrictions
Holder will be joined at the press conference by Jocelyn Samuels, the acting assistant attorney general in charge of DOJ's Civil Rights Division, and all three North Carolina U.S. attorneys, the source said.
NPR - Justice Department To Sue North Carolina Over Voter ID Law
The new U.S. case adds to a growing docket of challenges from groups including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, which are suing North Carolina under existing parts of the Voting Rights Act. Like the Justice Department lawsuit, those cases argue the state is imposing discriminatory burdens on poor, elderly and minority voters and abridging their right to vote.
 

Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina issued the following statement this morning to illustrate the impact of the law:

Democracy North Carolina applauds the decision of the US Department of Justice to file suit against key provisions of North Carolina’s new anti-voter law, HB-589. We welcome a vigorous challenge to a law designed to push away certain voters and rig the election system to benefit incumbent politicians.

North Carolina has a sad history of voter suppression, stemming from the Jim Crow laws adopted by Democrats over 100 years ago that included the poll tax, literacy tests and other measures aimed at pushing away African Americans and low-income white voters. As a result of those laws and intimidating practices, North Carolina ranked in the bottom 12 states for voter turnout throughout the entire Twentieth Century.

Since 2000, voter participation has finally begun to increase for all parties and demographic groups, thanks to Early Voting, Same-Day Registration, and other measures that make voting more accessible yet secure. In 2008, North Carolina climbed to 22nd among the 50 states for voter turnout among eligible citizens, and in 2012 we ranked 11th, a modern record.

Republican lawmakers had clear evidence that their proposals would harm African American voters more than white voters, yet they intentionally chose to adopt those provisions. They had no evidence of significant fraud caused by voter impersonation or out-of-precinct voting, yet they imposed new restrictions anyway. In fact, they had more evidence of fraud by mail-in absentee voting, a method used by more Republicans than Democrats, yet HB-589 makes access to absentee ballots easier through mass mailings and other techniques.

African Americans were 22% of registered voters in 2012, but they cast only 9% of the mail-in absentee ballots in the general election. On the other hand, they cast 29% of the in-person Early Voting ballots, 34% of the Same-Day Registration ballots for new voters in a county, 45% of the ballots by voters using SDR to update their registration, 30% of the out-of-precinct ballots cast on Election Day, and 43% of the ballots cast on the now eliminated first Sunday of Early Voting.

In March 2013, when African Americans had become 23% of registered voters, an analysis by the State Board of Elections showed that 318,600 registered voters did not appear to have a DMV license or NC photo ID – and 34% of that number are African Americans. Nevertheless, Republican lawmakers adopted the strictest photo ID requirement in the nation for in-person (not mail-in) voters. They refused to accept student IDs from public colleges or accept affidavit ballots from a voter who lacks the ID, as do other states with a photo ID requirement. Most North Carolinians think a photo requirement makes sense, but by a 70% super-majority they also think a voter without the ID should not be made to come back – let them use an affidavit ballot with a birth date or SSN that can be verified. See: http://www.democracy-nc.org/...

For county-level data and background, see:

http://www.democracy-nc.org/...

 

Related stories:
Art Pope's Civitas Institute notified in voting restriction lawsuit
Colin Powell critiques NC voting law
PPP poll finds low support for voting bill
McCrory signs voting bill
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slowbutsure
  •  Think of it, in this time, after all that (0+ / 0-)

    country has been through we still have folks who want to deny the vote to citizens.  I feel shame when this comes up so often in America.  We must have vigorous opposition to voter suppression in all it'smany forms.  Why doesn't the Federal government has lawsuits going against all the voter supremicists where ever they cavort.

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