By Mary Klenz, Co-president, League of Women Voters of North Carolina
One only need read the ruling handed down in the recent court decision to conclude that voters and Democracy have struck a blow to the latest round of efforts by the NC legislature to suppress voting rights of communities of color. In answer to challenges brought by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and other plaintiffs, a 3 judge panel of the federal appeals court concluded that the lower court “ignored critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina” and “that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law (HB589) with discriminatory intent.”
The federal court’s ruling barred North Carolina from requiring voter ID, ordered the state to restore a week of early voting and pre-registration and maintain same-day-registration and out-of-precinct voting. The NC ruling, along with similar decisions in Texas and Wisconsin, are encouraging signs that the pendulum is swinging in favor of voters and that federal courts are calling a halt to attempts by the NC, Texas and Wisconsin legislatures to suppress voters’ rights.
The laws restricting voter rights is a consequence of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder. The 2013 Supreme Court decision overturned the key provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that triggered review of voting changes in political jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting before they were implemented.
Without the need to pre-clear voting law changes, politicians in North Carolina and other states passed laws and practices that discriminate against voters in communities of color. Changes to NC’s voting laws, labeled as the most egregious in the country, make it harder to register and more difficult to vote.
Attempts by lawmakers to discriminate and create barriers to voting are unacceptable to the League of Women Voters and dishonors our Democracy. The Leagues call for Congress to pass legislation such as the Voting Rights Advancement Act is one step in righting those wrongs and modernizes and repairs the Voting Rights Act. More information can be found at lwv.org.
The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 following the passage of the 19th amendment to the constitution giving women the right to vote. Since that time, the LWV across all fifty states educate voters on the issues and the candidates running for election at the three levels of government. To that end Leagues register voters, hold candidate forums, educate voters on the issues important to them and their community and work in collaboration with other organizations to engage people in their governments.
For information on the 2016 general election and the candidates running for office and where they stand on the issues checkout Vote411.org and follow us on twitter @LWVNCarolina. Making Democracy Work is the responsibility of all of us and it works best when people are informed, engaged and vote.