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Justice Department files another voter ID lawsuit

In North Carolina this time.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

The Justice Department filed suit against North Carolina on Monday, charging that the Tar Heel State’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African-Americans.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the lawsuit at Justice Department headquarters, flanked by the three U.S. attorneys from North Carolina.

“Allowing limits on voting rights that disproportionately exclude minority voters would be inconsistent with our ideals as a nation,” Holder said. “And it would not be in keeping with the proud tradition of democracy that North Carolinians have built in recent years.”

Holder charged that North Carolina’s legislation wouldn’t just incidentally hurt African American turnout, but was intentionally designed that way.

“The Justice Department expects to show that the clear and intended effects of these changes would contract the electorate and result in unequal access to participation in the political process on account of race,” the attorney general said.

The suit, filed in Greensboro, N.C., asks that the state be barred from enforcing the new voter-ID law. However, the case goes further, demanding that the entire state of North Carolina be placed under a requirement to have all changes to voting laws, procedures and polling places “precleared” by either the Justice Department or a federal court, the source added.


DOJ’s lawsuit objects to the law’s photo ID requirement as well as three other key provisions: the elimination of the first seven days of early voting that took place in 2012, the end to same-day voter registration during the early voting period, and the end to the option of provisional ballots for voters who show up at the wrong polling place.

The chief of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Jocelyn Samuels, said the lawsuit argues that the law has the “purpose, intent and effect of discriminating on the basis of race.”

A North Carolina Board of Elections study in April of this year found that more than 300,000 registered voters in the state did not have a Department of Motor Vehicles-issued ID. African-Americans accounted for 34 percent of those who did not match with the DMV records, although they account for only about 22 percent of registered voters in the state.


DOJ moved in July to put Texas, which had been subject to preclearance statewide until the June Supreme Court ruling, back under preclearance requirements. That move came first in a pending lawsuit over redistricting in the state and later in another case over that state’s voter ID law.

In the Texas cases, the Justice Department is asking that the state be put under preclearance for ten years. However, in the North Carolina case, federal government lawyers are not seeking a specific duration for the new preclearance requirement.

See here for background on the Justice Department’s Section 3 claim in Texas. Justice has since filed a second lawsuit against voter ID in Texas, this one on Section 2 grounds, also covering the redistricting maps. North Carolina was widely thought to have passed the second-most egregious voter ID law after Texas, so the fact that Justice is also going after them is no surprise. As for Texas, regardless of how the courts ultimately rule on all this, if you think these actions by the Justice Department will not have an effect on the 2014 election, think again. Greg Abbott is out there telling big lies about voter ID. He and his soulmates want to run against President Obama rather than run on anything they’ve done or anything they want to do because, well, they don’t really have anything else to run on. They want this to be a nationalized election, like 2010 was. I think we Dems ought to oblige them on that – PDiddie has the obvious suggestion for whom the Dems should aim to run against – but regardless, we need to be ready for it. We weren’t in 2010, and we know how that turned out. What’s going on around the country matters next year. The election can’t just be about the same old things, spoken the same old ways. The game board is too big for that. Abby Rapoport has more.

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