Editorial: With New North Carolina Voting Laws Comes Lawsuits

Editorial: With New North Carolina Voting Laws Comes Lawsuits

In 2008, Barack Obama got fewer votes on Election Day, but narrowly won North Carolina because of early voting, which is disproportionately used by Democratic and African-American voters in the state. While the bill’s supporters say the legislation will reduce fraud and ensure the integrity of the vote, opponents say the real motivation is to suppress the votes of groups that traditionally lean Democratic and that disproportionately lack photo ID. Absentee voting, overwhelmingly used by white voters, has looser ID requirements.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Foundation and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a different lawsuit in federal court on Monday, fighting the elimination of the week of early voting, the end of same-day registration, and the prohibition of out-of precinct voting, according to the News & Observer. The suit says those provisions would discriminate against African-American voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“This law is a disaster,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Union’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “Eliminating a huge part of early voting will cut off voting opportunities for hundreds of thousands of citizens. It will turn Election Day into a mess, shoving more voters into even longer lines.”

Other lawsuits may be filed, with possible action by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has said the Justice Department would try to block laws implemented in Texas after a Supreme Court decision invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one that required selected jurisdictions to “pre-clear” any voting changes. In North Carolina, 40 of 100 counties had been covered.

Before McCrory signed the bill, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, had urged the governor to veto it and circulated a petition with the same message. That started speculation that Cooper could challenge McCrory in 2016.