Voting Rights Battle in North Carolina
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
Several civil rights groups led by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina are awaiting a decision in the trial of League of Women Voters of North Carolina, et al. vs. North Carolina, a case with potentially great impact on voting rights in the 2016 elections.
In its 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision, the U. S. Supreme Court struck down several provisions of the Voters Rights Act of 1965, particularly Section 4, which requires that states with histories of racial discrimination obtain pre-approval from the federal government or a federal court for voting procedure changes. The history of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is accessible on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4XtZ-tIzIA
With the death of that Voting Rights provision, North Carolina passed several changes to its voting procedures:
- Eliminating same-day voter registration;
- Reducing the early voting period by 1 week;
- Eliminating votes cast by voters outside their home precincts;
- Ending pre-registration for people ages 15 & 17;
- Imposing a strict requirement for government issued photo IDs for voting.
The voter ID provision of North Carolina’s law has since been lightened but the rest of the provisions remain intact. Proponents of the law claim that it prevents voter fraud and strengthens confidence in the voting process.
The law’s opponents, including the League of Women Voters, the U. S. Department of Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice allege that the law is the blatantly racist equivalent of the segregationist Jim Crow Laws in effect until 1965.
The law was already challenged in 2013 by a suit attempting to block its application to the 2014 elections. The civil rights advocates in that suit lost in U. S. District Court, won on appeal but ultimately lost in the U. S. Supreme Court.
Civil rights advocates are now challenging the law prior to the 2016 elections, beginning with the trial in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Most people might not be particularly interested in the case’s results; however, everyone along the political spectrum has an interest in the case’s outcome prior to the 2016 election.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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