Lawmakers passed The Voter Information and Verification Act in 2013 with much criticism. Several advocacy groups and voters challenged the voter ID requirement and other provisions. The act called for a reduction of the early voting period, eliminating same-day registration and voiding ballots cast in the wrong precinct. A team of judges described those same provisions as targeting “African-Americans with almost surgical precision,” and imposing “cures for problems that did not exist.”
Judges wrote, “After years of preclearance and expansion of voting access, by 2013 African American registration and turnout rates had finally reached near-parity with white registration and turnout rates. African Americans were poised to act as a major electoral force.”
As one of the 11 swing states in the upcoming election, North Carolina is especially relevant. Both democrat and republican parties have similar levels of support among voters.
Judges noted that Republican leaders drafted their restrictions on voting only after receiving data indicating that African-Americans would be the voters most significantly affected by them.
“We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,” judges wrote.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory along with State Senator Phil Berger and the House speaker, Tim Moore pledged to appeal the ruling.
“Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal courtroom,” McCrory said in a statement.
“We can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud” in November’s federal and state elections, Berger and Moore said in a joint statement.
The appeals court dismissed the voter fraud argument. Academic studies have proven voter fraud is largely non-existent.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch supported the appeals court decision saying the law sent a message that contradicted some of the most basic principles of our democracy.
“The ability of Americans to have a voice in the direction of their country — to have a fair and free opportunity to help write the story of this nation — is fundamental to who we are,” she said.
North Carolina could appeal Friday’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.