Commentary, Defending Democracy

Civil rights, civil liberties advocates respond to GOP’s voter ID amendment proposal

As had been predicted by many, Republican leaders at the General Assembly have unveiled their latest cynical effort to suppress voter participation — a proposal to place a voter ID amendment in the state constitution. House Speaker Tim Moore said today that Republicans intend to pass legislation this session that would place the proposed amendment on the November ballot.

In response, civil rights and civil liberties groups decried the proposal and promised vigorous resistance. This is from the ACLU of North Carolina:

ACLU Calls New N.C. Bill Latest Attack on Voting Rights

North Carolina lawmakers today announced plans to introduce a bill that would place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot “to require voters to provide photo identification before voting” and could make it more difficult for thousands of North Carolina voters to participate in elections.

Sarah Gillooly, the Director of Political Strategy and Advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, released the following statement:

“This is the latest in a long line of measures North Carolina legislators have pushed with one clear goal: to suppress voter turnout by making it harder for some of our state’s most marginalized voters, particularly people of color and those with low income, to participate in the democratic process. Once again, North Carolina lawmakers are trying to rig elections through shameful partisan tricks, rather than taking steps to ensure that every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot that counts. North Carolinians are tired of these blatant and discriminatory power grabs from politicians who keep trying to rig the system and turn back the clock on voting rights. We have come too far to allow Jim Crow-style restrictions to seep back into North Carolina elections, and we will stand with North Carolinians across the state to fight back and ensure that the right to vote is protected for all.”

In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed voting restrictions, including voter ID, that targeted Black voters “with discriminatory intent” and “almost surgical precision,” according to a 2016 federal appeals court ruling that overturned the law.

The ACLU and other groups had challenged the 2013 law, which also eliminated a week of early voting and ended same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting.

And this is from Democracy North Carolina:

New voter ID amendment will only hurt eligible voters

Leaders in the N.C. General Assembly announced today that they will introduce a constitutional amendment requiring voter identification to cast a ballot in North Carolina. If passed, the proposal would be placed on the November 2018 general election ballot.

In response, Democracy North Carolina released the following statement that the nonpartisan voting rights organization would “adamantly oppose” any efforts to add voting restrictions to the state’s constitution.

“Voters’ ability to access the ballot is at the heart of a fair election system. This effort, like past voter ID laws here and around the country, would compromise that access and disenfranchise eligible voters,” said Tomas Lopez, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina. “North Carolinians have been harmed by lawmakers who drew illegal, racially-gerrymandered voting districts and passed an illegal voter suppression law that targeted African-Americans ‘with almost surgical precision.’ Democracy North Carolina will adamantly oppose any effort to permanently add these voting restrictions to our state’s constitution.”

In August 2013, N.C. lawmakers enacted House Bill 589, deemed the worst voter suppression law in the country. Dubbed the “Monster Voting Law,” H589 was a strict voter ID law requiring certain identification to vote shown to be less frequently held by voters of color, and excluding identification disproportionately held by African-Americans. The law also shortened the state’s popular early voting period by a full week, eliminated same-day registration, prevented out-of-precinct ballots from being counted, and ended a successful pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year olds. All provisions were shown to disproportionately impact voters of color, students, low-income voters, the elderly, people with disabilities, and rural residents.

In July 2016, U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the Monster Law violating Constitutional and statutory bans on intentional discrimination, and specifically noted that it “targeted African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” In May 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to revisit the case. Despite findings that H589 harmed voters, since 2017 legislative leaders had threatened to revive the voter ID and other provisions.

Democracy NC is encouraging voters to contact their legislators now to oppose this bill.

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