After North Carolina’s Republican legislature passed a voter ID bill in the lame-duck period and overrode a veto from Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, the NAACP is taking to the federal judiciary.
On Thursday, the state’s NAACP chapter filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging a bill implementing strict voter ID requirements on North Carolina voters. The bill would require voters to present a valid state photo ID before being allowed to vote in an election. Governor Cooper vetoed the bill, saying the problem it was meant to address (in-person voter fraud) was a non-issue. Republicans overrode his veto earlier this week, meaning the bill is now law.
“This is a brazen effort by a lame-duck, usurper legislature to once again legislate voter suppression,” North Carolina NAACP legal redress chairman Irv Joyner stated. “This law is designed to suppress the votes of people of color. The federal courts have seen through this legislature’s attempts to do this before and we are confident that they will see through this current attempt, as well.”
Republican lawmakers passed the bill in the lame-duck session, prior to the swearing-in of the new general assembly in January. Republicans lost their veto-proof supermajority in the November midterm election. According to WCNC, Republicans will still control both chambers of the legislature, but will no longer be able to override gubernatorial vetoes.
The bill in question is essentially a revised version of a previous voter ID law that was struck down by a federal judge in 2016 for targeting minorities “with almost surgical precision.” The initial court filing from the State of North Carolina even argued that changes to early voting laws were necessary in order to limit early voting in areas that were “disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic.” After the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the lower court’s ruling, the previous voter ID law was considered officially dead.
Republicans have long since justified their push for voter ID laws nationwide in order to fight against the specter of voter fraud. However, a 2014 analysis of more than one billion ballots cast over the course of the course of more than a decade found just 31 actual instances of in-person voter fraud.
“To put this in perspective, the 31 incidents below come in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014,” Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School at Los Angeles wrote in The Washington Post. “Some of these 31 incidents have been thoroughly investigated (including some prosecutions). But many have not. Based on how other claims have turned out, I’d bet that some of the 31 will end up debunked: a problem with matching people from one big computer list to another, or a data entry error, or confusion between two different people with the same name, or someone signing in on the wrong line of a pollbook.”
In addition to North Carolina, Republicans in both Michigan and Wisconsin took advantage of the lame-duck session to pass laws restricting voting rights before their Democratic replacements officially take office next month.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.