NC NAACP Challenges New Voter ID Law In Federal Court

Dec 21, 2018
Originally published on December 21, 2018 2:28 pm

Six local chapters of the North Carolina NAACP are suing the state legislature over its new voter ID law.

The lawsuit claims the new law violates the federal Voting Rights Act by discriminating against minority voters by placing undue burdens on them to obtain photo IDs in order to cast ballots in-person.

"African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color will be disparately impacted by what the legislature has done," said Irving Joyner, a law professor at North Carolina Central University and legal counsel to the North Carolina NAACP. "Because that is the community that is least likely to have the underlying documentation necessary to get the photo IDs."

Joyner noted that  some members of the black community in North Carolina during the Jim Crow era did not give birth in hospitals and therefore may not have received birth certificates for their children, creating a hurdle, perhaps, to obtaining an acceptable ID under the new law.

Supporters of the new law point out that a 55 percent majority of voters supported a photo ID constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall. They also point out that the measure included input from Democrats, who mostly voted against the final bill, and is far different than a 2013, Republican-backed photo ID law thrown by a federal court for targeting African-Americans with "almost surgical precision."

Unlike the 2013 law, the new measure allows for photo IDs issued by public and private universities and community colleges as well as IDs issued by some state and local government employers, including charter schools.

Those changes have done nothing to persuade advocacy groups like the NAACP or the Southern Coalition for Justice, which filed a lawsuit challenging the new voter ID law in state court shortly after the General Assembly overrode Governor Roy Cooper's veto, with all but two yes votes cast by Republicans.

"I don't care how many avenues that's been broadened, that animus is still there," Joyner said.

Republican lawmakers like state Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth, Yadkin) say nothing will appease opponents of the voter ID law and that they are just opposed to common-sense measures to protect election integrity.

"After suing to stop voters from even having the chance to amend the constitution to require voter ID," said Krawiec, in a statement issued Wednesday evening after the Southern Coalition for Social Justice announced the filing of its lawsuit in state court, "liberal activists are suing again saying the new constitutional amendment is unconstitutional."

General Assembly Republicans timed the extra session to draft the voter ID enabling legislation so they would still hold a veto-proof majority, which will end after Democratic gains in the November election take effect in January.

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