Three judges in a federal appeals court unanimously struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law, declaring that the law was, “passed with discriminatory intent.” The ruling also struck down changes made in 2013 to early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration. The laws had a significant impact on minorities, especially African Americans, who faced an undue burden to exercise their voting rights.
Judge Diana Motz wrote the opinion on behalf of the Court, stating:
“The record makes clear that the historical origin of the challenged provisions in this statute is not the innocuous back-and-forth of routine partisan struggle that the State suggests and that the district court accepted. Rather, the General Assembly enacted them in the immediate aftermath of unprecedented African American voter participation in a state with a troubled racial history and racially polarized voting. The district court clearly erred in ignoring or dismissing this historical background evidence, all of which supports a finding of discriminatory intent.”
The state could seek to appeal the decision to the full bench of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals or to the Supreme Court, but it seems unlikely those courts will step in to restore the voter ID law and other voting-related changes in advance of the November election.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, recent voter ID laws ‘address’ the already nonexistent problem of voter fraud. Moreover, it is not free to provide all of the necessary documents to obtain a government photo ID; the fees amount to a “poll tax,” which must be paid for a citizen to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
We are grateful that the Court struck down North Carolina’s unconstitutional suppression of voter rights just in time for one of the most important presidential elections in modern American history. America needs to continue to move forward in providing fair access to the polls to every citizen, rather than going backwards to the old days of rampant suppression of the African American vote.
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