NAACP Suing North Carolina Over Suppressing Black and Latino Voters
NAACP Suing North Carolina Over Suppressing Black and Latino Voters © REUTERS/ Mark Makela
03:57 26.01.2016(updated 03:59 26.01.2016) Get short URL
North Carolina residents are filing a lawsuit alleging that state legislators specifically designed the new state voter ID laws to stifle minority and traditionally non-Republican voters.
The plaintiffs in the case include the North Carolina conference of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
The state claims that the laws are intended to prevent voter fraud, a virtually non-existent issue. Attorneys argue that the real motive behind the 2013 law is to protect a Republican majority in the state by making it more difficult for black and latino voters to vote.
“This is illuminated by the fact that there’s no legitimate basis for having this law,” attorney Denise Lieberman with the Advancement Project, representing the North Carolina NAACP, told ThinkProgress. “We have expert witnesses who will testify that the state’s rationale for the law is unsupported, that there is absolutely no evidence of in-person voter impersonation that would justify this law. Furthermore, these laws don’t advance or expand people’s confidence in the voting process, as the state is arguing. They actually reduce it. So the conclusion we must draw is that lawmakers knew what they were doing.”
A previous series of laws, including same-day registration, out of precinct voting, pre-registration of 17-year-olds, and an extra week of early voting, created easier access for people to exercise their choice. This led to a spike in people of color making it to the ballot box and resulting in local political power that was seen to be a challenge to the Republican stronghold.
The NAACP is arguing that the state waited until the Supreme Court struck down protections within the Voting Rights Act before implementing the new ID law. They also note that people of color are twice as likely as white voters to not have the required official government ID card.
Under the law, voters without ID can still cast a provisional ballot if their reason for not having an ID card is deemed valid. These votes are not counted until after election day, however.
The NAACP attempted to bar the new laws from going into effect until after the 2016 presidential election, but lost in court. The organization suggests that the new laws will greatly impede voter turnout.
“This is the first election with this law in effect, but the state has done a very limited amount of education and training of both voters and poll workers,” Lieberman said. “They are reinforcing the message that without exception you need an ID to vote, and distributing very little information about the ability to exercise the reasonable impediment process.”