North Carolina Faces Tough Questions From The Courts As Voter Laws Come Under Scrutiny

As North Carolina faces criticism over a recent law passed to ban transgenders from using public restrooms based on which sex the person identifies with, the state is now under fire for on another issue: voter laws. At issue is whether or not the latest voter laws discriminate against minorities.

The Charlotte Observer reported that federal appeals court judges were skeptical of the laws North Carolina put on the books to prevent voter fraud. In 2013, North Carolina rewrote its voting laws, which required photo identification for voters who voted in person. Although a federal appeals court judge approved the change, it may not have the expected result.

A three judge panel met to determine if the ruling from the lower court should be upheld. Judge Henry F. Floyd questioned the timing of North Carolina’s voting law. For the first time in a century the Republicans took control of state government while the U.S. Supreme Court undid key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Supporters of voting rights laws have often been accused of suppressing minority votes for political gain.

The lawsuit was started by the U.S. Justice Department, the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. It was fast-tracked into the courts by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the major questions was why public assistance IDs were removed as a form of ID from the law.

In a press release sent out by the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), they argued that those who supported the voter ID law were wrongly interpreting the law. In the original case, North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, et al. v. Patrick L. McCrory, et al., the ACRU said that the U.S. District Court who heard the case rightly rejected claims made by the plaintiffs that the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

In a case from 2013, which started the controversy, Shelby County vs Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required Southern States to get preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice for changes in voter laws. The section also required Southern states to keep statistical data on voters. The Court ruled the data involved was obsolete and no longer necessary to be kept.

Susan A. Carlson, the CEO of ACRU, said that the suits were an attempt to do an end run around the Supreme Court.

“The opponents of common-sense voter ID laws are attempting an end run around the Supreme Court. The District Court got it right, and we are confident that North Carolina’s law will stand in the appeals process.”

The Christian Science Monitor reported on why the voter ID laws in North Carolina were once again under scrutiny. Critics of the laws say that it discriminates against poor people and minorities. The courts will actually review several different policies from the North Carolina laws that include issues that include ending same day voter registration, prohibiting out of precinct voting, and eliminating the first week of early voting.

The most controversial portion of the North Carolina law is the ID portion, which states which forms of ID are acceptable for proving identity when voting. The voter ID laws are currently in effect in 17 different states and affect approximately three million people who don’t have government issued IDs.

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