North Carolina Is Making It Harder for People to Vote, and We’re Pushing Back

Today trial begins in our challenge to the North Carolina Voter Information and Verification Act of 2013, which election law expert Richard Hasen described as “the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades,” designed “to make it harder for people — especially non-white people . . . — to register or cast a vote.” 

Along with our co-counsel, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the ACLU and the ACLU of North Carolina will be in court for the next two weeks challenging this law on behalf of the League of Women Voters and others. 

Our case will focus on three provisions:

Early Voting.  Like most states, North Carolina permits early in-person voting. Through the 2012 election, North Carolina had a 17-day early voting period. It was disproportionately used by African-American voters, 70 percent of whom cast their ballots early during the last two presidential elections. Now North Carolina has slashed a week of early voting — a period during which almost 900,000 voters cast their ballots during the 2012 election. Some of the nation’s leading political scientists will explain that the loss of these voting opportunities will mean fewer votes and more congestion on Election Day. That’s exactly what happened when Florida cut early voting before the 2012 election when, according to one estimate, over 200,000 votes were lost

Same-Day Registration. Before 2014, North Carolina was one of about a dozen states that allowed voters to register to vote and cast a ballot in one stop to a voting site. Same-day registration is an important reform: States that have same-day registration have turnout that is, on average, 10 percentage points higher than other states. In the last two presidential elections, over 90,000 North Carolina voters used same-day registration. In particular, African-Americans relied on same-day registration at nearly twice the rate of white voters. For some voters, the opportunity to register and to cast a ballot simultaneously means the difference in voting or not.  But North Carolina has now eliminated same-day registration.

Out-of-Precinct Votes. If a duly registered voter appeared at the wrong precinct — whether by accident or due to poll-worker error — North Carolina used to count that voter’s ballot for all offices for which that person was eligible. This made sense. It doesn’t matter where you vote for certain statewide offices like senator or governor. Thousands of voters’ ballots were counted as a result. But the state has now ended that practice: Ballots cast at the wrong precinct — even if due to no fault of the voter — will now be discarded.

One provision of the law that won’t be discussed much at trial is the new voter ID requirement. That’s because, on the eve of the trial, the North Carolina legislature realized the obvious — that its strict voter ID law would undeniably disenfranchise thousands of registered voters — and backed down by establishing an affidavit procedure by which voters lacking ID will apparently be permitted to cast ballots. The parties are taking a closer look at the revised voter ID law and deferring judicial consideration of it until a later time.

Chief Justice Roberts recently wrote, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.” We agree. See you in court, North Carolina.

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Anonymous

Thanks for correcting the title.

Jason51051

I live in N.C. and I don't understand how the general assembly could have voted for such a racist law. It applies to everyone, how racist is that?

Anonymous

How is it racist? NC State GOP politician Don Yelton (Buncombe County), said "...if it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it" and "The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt". He resigned after this frankness.

In Georgia, state Senator Fran Miller complained about the polling places being in places that were 'dominated by African-American shoppers'.

Franklin Party Ohio GOP chair Doug Preis: “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”

State voter-ID law was about Democratic voter suppression, according to former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer. As he explained, 'We've got to cut down on early voting because voting is not good for us'.

If they have their way, only white male property owners over age 18 will vote.

Anonymous

North Carolina will win this at the district court, probably lose at the fourth circuit, due to liberal activist judges. But on appeal the law will be upheld at the Supreme Court. 5 to 4 decision. I mean come on the Scotus has already said voter Id laws are Constitutional. I guess the ACLU didn't get the memo in 2007.

Anonymous

You must not have gotten the memo about reading the article before posting.

Anonymous

I think you didn't get the memo about this lawsuit. They aren't challenging the voter ID law. They are challenging early voting and voter registration laws. SCOTUS didn't rule on those things.

Anonymous

The people elected a 'moderate' Republican who they felt would be a good governor. Voter fraud throughout the nation is rare and when it occurred it was most often by the GOP. When you can't win an honest election, change the rules.

Republicans laugh at the protestors of 'Moral Monday' who are out demonstrating due to Republican policies. The Republican plan is for tax burdens to be borne by the working poor while the wealthy get huge tax cuts. What's not to like?

M. Lee

This is a vital push back against the Republican legislature set to steal elections. No citizen should be "pro" voter suppression. We have a right to have fair representation and a voice. This legislature wants to ensure their power, their voices and their policies are the only representation available to all its citizens. Jason51051's sarcastic comment of this being applied to everyone and therefore inherently not "racist" has chosen to remain ignorant about how these laws were drafted to impact the voters likely to vote against the GOP. Thank you ACLU for taking this on but the DOJ should have been here as well.

Anonymous

Rather than punishing ordinary citizens for trying to vote, it might be better for the public to concentrate on the ethics of those who are in charge of and associated with the voting process.

Walden O'Dell of the Diebold voting machines used at the time publicly declared he was committed to helping Ohio deliver electoral votes for the 2004 election.

Two election workers in Ohio were convicted of negligent misconduct by an elections employee and sentenced to 18 months for helping to deliver Ohio to the incumbent in 2004. Without the shenanigans, the election would have gone to the challenger.

The 2004 election favored a Republican, so it was not a problem for the legislature pushing for the new voter ID law. The problem for them is when a Democrat can win.

Why not use paper ballots in each election? Computers can be hacked. Why not match signatures to previously registered voters if one is so worried about the 1 vote per year per state average of voting fraud? If you want an honest election, this is one way.

Greg Cook

In America the law is that you must be an American Citizen to vote. That seems more than logical. Proving your citizenship in order to vote is directly relevant and necessary. If someone cant prove their identity, that can lead to many legal problems for themselves. I appreciate the ACLU but many times they seem ideologically warped. They promote a false victim, racist, narrative. How does the ACLU think about our big federal government requires every citizen to prove that they are insured, but not prove they are an american citizen. more than often those that are unable or unwilling to prove their identity get insured for free by the government at the cost of those that do comply...

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