In a blow to the NC Republican agenda, a federal three judge panel has struck down the 3 year old voter ID law which had been implemented this year. In the spring primary election, according to Democracy North Carolina, “1,419 provisional ballots cast were not counted.” There was an increase in the percentage of provisional ballots which some attributed directly to the new voter ID law. And the law was expected to impact the election this fall to the detriment of Democratic candidates. The unanimous court of appeals decision, penned by Judge Diana Motz, stated that the contested provisions in the law are in violation of the constitution because “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.” Today’s ruling also reversed limits the same state law placed on early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration.
All three judges were appointed by Democratic presidents (one by Clinton and two by Obama). And Governor Pat McCrory has issued a statement criticizing the ruling as politically motivated “Photo IDs are required to purchase sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal court room. Yet, three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal and also review other potential options.” The NC GOP are going so far as to lay blame on gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper. The party released a statement decrying unreasonable suits and lauding the success of the law. “The voter ID law has already been put into place and was successful in its implementation this year, despite the false predictions from the left. Preserving integrity at the ballot box is just plain common sense, but Roy Cooper and his liberal allies used endless lawsuits to throw our citizens under the bus.The people of North Carolina deserve a system that ensures every voter is who they say they are as they rightfully cast their vote.
Meanwhile, liberal entities such as the NCNAACP are applauding the decision. “We are happy today that the 4th Circuit’s Court of Appeals’ decision exposed the racist intent of the extremist element of our government in North Carolina,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “In 2013, this government took our voting system — which was a model for the nation in encouraging people to vote, not discouraging them — and they made it into the worst voter suppression act in the country. Today the 4th Circuit’s decision gives North Carolinians back an electoral system that allows the people of North Carolina to vote freely this fall.”
Update from the NC Board of Elections, August 1:
State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach today issued the following statement regarding the panel decision of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:
We encourage all voters to stay informed of developments over the coming weeks.
Our agency is carefully reviewing today’s decision from the Fourth Circuit. Absent alternative guidance from the courts, voters will not be asked to show photo identification this election. Early voting will run October 20 through November 5, and same-day registration will be available at early voting sites.
If voters do not appear at their assigned precinct within their county, their vote will still count for all eligible contests. However, to avoid voting a provisional ballot, we encourage voters to appear at their properly-assigned precinct on Election Day.
Counsel for the state are reviewing options on appeal. Regardless of the outcome, our agency will continue to educate voters and prepare elections officials ahead of November.