North Carolina Latest State to be Sued by Justice Department Over Voter ID Law

Wednesday, October 02, 2013
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (AP Photo)

First Texas, now North Carolina. The U.S. Department of Justice is suing both states over new electoral laws that the Obama administration says will disenfranchise minorities.


Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the North Carolina lawsuit on Monday, alleging the state’s voter reform law represents a threat to the democratic process. Similar criticism was uttered when the Justice Department sued Texas over its Voter ID statute and redistricting plan.


“Today’s action is about far more than unwarranted voter restrictions. It is about our democracy, and who we are as a nation,” Holder told the media at a press conference. “I stand here to announce this lawsuit more in sorrow than in anger. It pains me to see the voting rights of my fellow citizens negatively impacted by actions predicated on a rationale that is tenuous at best—and on concerns that we all know are not, in fact, real.”


The Justice Department is challenging four provisions of North Carolina’s voting law, including the requirement that residents show a photo ID at polling places before casting their ballots.


The administration also objects to the elimination of the first seven days of early voting; the elimination of same-day voter registration during the early-voting period; and the prohibition on counting provisional ballots cast by voters in their home county but outside their home voting precinct.


North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) has defended the law, arguing it is necessary to prevent voter fraud in his state. However, there is no actual significant evidence of the sort of in-person impersonation fraud that the North Carolina law covers.


The lawsuit follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling (pdf) in June that abolished a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required North Carolina, Texas and six other states with histories of discrimination, mostly in the South, to obtain permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing their election procedures.


Since that ruling, Republican-controlled states have rushed to impose new limits on voting in an effort to combat voter fraud, according to supporters.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Justice to Sue North Carolina Over Voting Law (by Holly Yeager, Washington Post)

Justice Department Poised to File Lawsuit Over Voter ID Law (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)

Fight is on Over Efforts to Tighten Voting Rules; Critics See it as a Violation of Voting Rights Act (by Michael J. Mishak, Washington Post)

Supreme Court Voting Rights Decision Simplified—A Republican Dream Come True (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Arizona Voter ID Law Overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)    

Federal Courts Versus Republican Efforts to Limit Voting: Texas (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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