As Bob Hall of Democracy NC explained last month, “North Carolina has a sad history of voter suppression, stemming from the Jim Crow laws adopted by Democrats over 100 years ago that included the poll tax, literacy tests, and other measures aimed at pushing away African Americans and low-income white voters.”
Our state’s new law restricting voting rights sadly regurgitates a time that most North Carolinians had hoped was long gone. And just like during the Jim Crow era, the federal government is standing up for the disenfranchised.
On September 30, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will sue the state of North Carolina because of the new restrictions, saying,” 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.”
Democracy NC has a great information sheet explaining the new voting law. In short, the law restricts early voting, ends same-day registration, and does not count votes cast at the wrong precinct. It also creates new voter ID requirements. All of these restrictions most likely impact minority, low-income, and young voters.
The Raleigh News and Observer explained the impact of the law on African American voters in a recent editorial:
“Blacks make up 22% of North Carolina’s population, but in the 2012 election they accounted for 29% of those who voted early in-person and 34% of the same-day registrations by people voting for the first time in a county. And of the 318,600 registered voters who, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, do not appear to have North Carolina driver’s licenses or DMV IDs, 34% are black. The changes in the voting law affect black voters to a disproportionate extent. That was the intent.”
The US Justice Department will work to prove such discriminatory intent—and legal experts say it won’t be easy. Governor McCrory has decided to hire a private attorney – at $360 an hour – to defend the law in court.