New NC voting law facing legal battle
Posted: Aug 12, 2013 4:27 PM EST Updated: Aug 13, 2013 6:39 PM EST
Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper had written to McCrory urging him to veto the measure.
“This bill was much more than just voter ID. There were dozens of reasons to veto this bad elections bill with its restrictions on voting, more corporate campaign money and reduced public disclosure being just a few,” Cooper wrote in a statement on Monday.
Republicans have said the legislation is meant to prevent voter fraud, which they claim is both rampant and undetected.
But non-partisan voting rights groups, Democrats and libertarians suggested the true goal is to suppress voter turnout, especially among blacks, the young, the elderly and the poor.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, The League of Women Voters of North Carolina, and other statewide organizations and citizens filed a lawsuit in Federal Court – asking for preliminary and permanent injunctions against the law.
The lawsuit is targeting three specific points of the law: the reduction of the number of days of early voting from 17 to 10, the elimination of same day voter registration during early voting, and elimination of out of precinct voting.
“This law creates new barriers to voting” says Jo Nichols, President of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina. “It unconstitutionally limits citizens right to vote, where they can vote, how they can vote.”
Chris Brook, of the ACLU of North Carolina, says “the question for them we have is why are making it harder for North Carolinians to enter the ballot box? Why is that something we’re doing in 2013?”
Brook says according to the statistics from the 2012 Elections, “20% of the electorate in NC voted during the first seven days of early voting.”
Brook says he’s concerned the law will lead to long lines of people waiting to vote – similar to the scene in Florida where voters were forced to wait hours to cast their ballots.
The ACLU says hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians also took advantage of same day voter registration and out of precinct voting.
Organizations that work to get out the vote say “it’s already bad enough trying to get people out to vote during that two week period we have. But by reducing that, it is going to tremendously reduce our ability to get people out to the polls to vote.”
Voting rights activists say they believe legislators and the Governor are intentionally putting up barriers, which they say is a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.
“And the legislature can’t cut off avenues of participation that it knows that some of the state’s most marginalized citizens use” says Allison Riggs of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
Organization say along with an injunction, they want the lawsuit to “illuminate the process” because they say “there was no public hearing, no committee meeting on any of this.”
The ACLU says House Bill 589 passed in a 48-hour period.
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