NC Voter ID Law Runs Into Roadblock: the DOJ

Eric Holder to announce lawsuit today: source
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2013 7:14 AM CDT
NC Voter ID Law Runs Into Roadblock: the DOJ
In this Aug. 12, 2013, file photo Attorney General Eric Holder speaks to the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

North Carolina passed a controversial voter ID law in July, but if the Department of Justice has its way, the law—said to be the most sweeping of its kind in the nation—may never be enforced. The DOJ will file suit against the state today, a source tells Politico and the Charlotte Observer; Eric Holder is expected to make the announcement later today. The suit accuses North Carolina of violating the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against black voters, and asks that the state be barred from enforcing the law—which was scheduled to go into effect for the 2016 elections. It also seeks to put North Carolina back on a "preclearance" list, meaning all changes to voting laws and procedures would need to first be approved by the DOJ or a federal court.

Forty North Carolina counties were subject to preclearance until June, when the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. But the DOJ can use another VRA provision to attempt to put states back under preclearance, as it is also doing in Texas. The problem with the voter ID law, as the DOJ sees it: Just 22% of registered voters in North Carolina are African American, but they make up 34% of the voters who do not have a DMV-issued ID (and thus would not be allowed to vote). The DOJ suit will also take issue with three other parts of the law: the elimination of provisional ballots for voters who go to the incorrect polling place (30% of out-of-precinct voters last year were African American); the elimination of some early voting days (29% of early voters last year were African American); and the elimination of same-day voter registration during early voting (41% of voters using same-day registration were African American).

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