The US Justice Department is suing the state of North Carolina over its voter ID laws, claiming the requirement to show a picture is racist.
The voter ID lawsuit filed by Eric Holder’s department claims that North Carolina violated provisions in Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act when passing the ballot casting legislation Last month the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a similar voter ID lawsuit against Texas.
According to documents filed in federal court, Holder is seeking to require North Carolina to garner federal “pre-clearance” before making any voting related changes in the future.
“In challenging this law, the Justice Department will present evidence of racially discriminatory effect resulting from these changes – based on the state’s own data,” Holder said. “The evidence will also show that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted this legislation despite having evidence before it that these changes would make it harder for many minority voters to participate in the electoral process.”
Eric Holder also warned other states who are considering similar legislation, saying the department “will never hesitate” to take legal action. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have at least some form of photo ID laws, although because of lawsuits, not all of them are in effect.
Supporters of the laws note that Americans are required to show photo identification when cashing a check, buying a beer, applying for a marriage license, and a lengthy list of other routine daily tasks.
The series of lawsuits against individual states by the department Eric Holder follow a Supreme Court ruling which struck down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law mandated, among a host of other voting regulation changes, the removal of “strict federal oversight” from the election process in some states.
The North Carolina voter ID law reduces the early voting period in addition to requiring photo identification in order to cast a ballot.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, issued a statement with a picture showing President Obama giving his photo ID to a poll worker. Thirty-four states require at least some form of ID before voting, McCrory said.
“I believe if showing a voter ID is good enough and fair enough for our own president in Illinois, then it’s good enough for the people in North Carolina,” McCrory said. “I believe that North Carolina is in the mainstream on this issue and it’s the Justice Department that’s working in the fringes. This new law which I signed in August brings us in line with a majority of other states.”
North Carolina still will be one of 32 states which offer early voting options for citizens. North Carolina and 36 other states prohibit same-day voting registration. A total of 43 states do not allow underage voters to pre-register.
“I’m very disappointed that the Justice Department has chosen to challenge a law that includes provisions such as voter ID as is used in other states throughout our great country. This lawsuit will only result in costly legal bills and drawn out legal battles for both state and federal taxpayers. Protecting the integrity of every vote is one of the most important duties I have as governor of this great state. And that is why I signed this common sense legislation into law.”
During a late September meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, Holder stated that he will not permit the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Voting Rights Act to be used as “open season” for the suppression of voting rights by states.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act reads: “No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”
In 2009, the US Supreme Court found that photo ID laws were constitutional and a valid form of preventing voter fraud.
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