The Justice Department filed suit against North Carolina today, challenging several portions of the voting law changes enacted into law in July and following through on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s promise to renew enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder.
The complaint names the state, the North Carolina State Board of Elections, and the Executive Director for the State Board of Elections as defendants and cites several provisions of House Bill 589, the so-called “monster voting law,” as violative of the Voting Rigths Act. In particular, it cites the elimination of the first week of early voting, which reduces the total number of days of early voting (from 17 days to 10 days); the elimination of same-day voter registration during the early voting period; the prohibition on counting certain provisional ballots; and the failure to provide adequate safeguards for voters who lack the limited types of acceptable photo identification cards that will be required in future elections. The first three changes are scheduled to take effect in 2014, and the last change will take effect in 2016.
The department is asking the court to prohibit North Carolina from enforcing these requirements, and also requests that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. If granted, this would subject North Carolina to a new preclearance requirement.
In announcing the DOJ action, Holder said:
By restricting access and ease of voter participation, this new law would shrink, rather than expand, access to the franchise,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Allowing limits on voting rights that disproportionately exclude minority voters would be inconsistent with our ideals as a nation. Whenever warranted by the facts and the law, the department will not hesitate to use the tools and legal authorities at our disposal to fight against racial discrimination, to stand against disenfranchisement, and to safeguard the right of every eligible American to cast a ballot.
Read the full complaint here.