A federal appeals court just struck down North Carolina’s new requirements that voters must show specific photo identification and follow other rules that disproportionately affected minorities, saying that the new laws deliberately “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an attempt to decrease black turnout at the polls.
The new law stipulated that a drivers license, state issued ID card, passport, military or Native American card would be required for a person to vote. It basically stopped the 318,000 registered North Carolina voters — disproportionately African-Americans and Latinos — that do not have a driver’s license, state issued, military, or tribal ID card. (birth certificates, social security cards, bank statements, or other forms of ID were no longer accepted). The law also stopped early voting and same-day registration.
The appeals court cited data that these methods were used disproportionately by black voters.
In 2012, 70 percent of black voters used early voting — and cast ballots at a slightly higher percentage than whites. Although black voters made up about 20 percent of the electorate, they made up 41 percent of voters who used same-day registration.
The new 2013 ‘Voter ID’ law was created in an attempt to stop voter impersonation, however, there was never any evidence of voter impersonation that might justify the voter ID requirements established by the new law.
When the law was originally passed in 2013, a former NC Republican Chairman even stated, “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it…”
Today’s ruling from the three-judge panel states that “the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history” when it rewrote voting laws in 2013.
The ruling also stated that, “While it is of course true that “history did not end in 1965,” id., it is equally true that SL 2013-381 imposes the first meaningful restrictions on voting access since that date — and a comprehensive set of restrictions at that. Due to this fact, and because the legislation came into being literally within days of North Carolina’s release from the preclearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act, that long-ago history bears more heavily here than it might otherwise. Failure to so recognize would risk allowing that troubled history to “pick up where it left off in 1965” to the detriment of African American voters in North Carolina. LWV, 769 F.3d at 242.” – on page 32 of the published federal court documents.
The judges wrote that in the years before the North Carolina law took effect, registration and participation by black voters had been dramatically increasing.
“We recognize that elections have consequences, but winning an election does not empower anyone in any party to engage in purposeful racial discrimination,” the panel said.