The Justice Department will sue the state of North Carolina for alleged racial discrimination over tough new voting rules, the latest effort by the Obama administration to fight back against a Supreme Court decision that struck down the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act and freed southern states from strict federal oversight of their elections.
North Carolina has a new law scaling back the period for early voting and imposing stringent voter identification requirements. It is among at least five Southern states adopting stricter voter ID and other election laws. The Justice Department on Aug. 22 sued Texas over the state’s voter ID law and is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit over redistricting laws in Texas that minority groups consider to be discriminatory.
Republican lawmakers in southern states insist the new measures are needed to prevent voter fraud, though such crimes are infrequent. Democrats and civil rights groups argue the tough new laws are intended to make voting more difficult for minorities and students, voting groups that lean toward Democrats, in states with legacies of poll taxes and literacy tests.
Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the lawsuit against North Carolina at a news conference Monday, according to a person who has been briefed on the department’s plans but is not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Holder will be joined at the news conference by the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Joceyln Samuels, and the three U.S. attorneys from North Carolina, the person said.
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 [Note from ST: The number of HOUR for early voting do not change, however] 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.
This sets up an interesting dynamic in this state as our Attorney General, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat who has shown reluctance to prosecute suspected cases of voter fraud in NC. Naturally, he is on record as not supporting the Voter ID law. He’s also been putting out feelers for a possible 2016 run for Governor against Pat McCrory, who presumably will run for re-election. What better way for him to appeal to voters who have been made to feel – by shamelessly opportunistic Democrats (who are sick over losing power after having it for over a century) – that they have been “disenfranchised” by the NC General Assembly, which has a super-majority of GOP members, by coming out in support of the lawsuit? Who would then be in line to defend the law against the DOJ’s overreach?
As they say, stay tuned. In the meantime, here are some facts about NC’s voter ID laws – in comparison with other states – that Democrats don’t want people to know. Knowledge is power, and all that.
Related: The Latest Evidence of Voter Fraud — and Discrimination – written by John Fund & Hans A. von Spakovsky