North Carolina voter-ID case could have ramifications across U.S.
• Jan 27, 2016
The Washington Post By: Sari Horwitz
Winston-Salem, N.C. — The requirement to present photo identification to cast a ballot went on trial Monday in a closely watched case that will have legal ramifications for voting across the country this presidential election year.
Inside a federal courthouse here, attorneys for the Justice Department and the NAACP argued that the law passed by the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly intentionally discriminates against African Americans and Latinos, who disproportionately lack one of the required forms of photo identification.
“The state should be making it easier for people to engage in the fundamental right to vote, not harder,” Michael Glick, a Washington lawyer representing the NAACP, said in his opening statement.
Because the voter-ID requirement will make it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote, Glick said, it is unconstitutional and violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Under North Carolina’s election law, passed three years ago, voters will have to present one of these photo IDs for the first time this year: a North Carolina driver’s license, a special non-operators ID, a U.S. passport, a military ID, a veteran’s ID, a tribal ID from a federally or state recognized tribe, or in certain cases, a driver’s license or non-operator ID issued by another state.
Thomas A. Farr, a lawyer representing North Carolina, argued that there is no evidence that any resident of the state will be unable to vote under the photo-ID law. He said there is a “great deal of dispute” about the data that the NAACP and Justice Department will present, which they say indicates that African Americans are twice as likely as whites to lack a photo ID.
“We’re talking about a very, very, very small group of people who may not have a photo ID,” Farr said, adding that the challengers “just don’t like the policy.”
Since the 2010 midterm election, 21 states have added voting restrictions — and in 15 states, the rules will be in place for the first time in a presidential election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Eight states have strict photo-ID laws.
"Election administrators, voting rights activists and lawyers are watching the North Carolina case very closely,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California at Irvine. “If North Carolina gets a green light from the federal courts to pass this set of laws making it harder to register and vote, then I expect other states with Republican legislators to pass similar laws.”
Read the entire article in The Washington Post