Updated: Federal court strikes down controversial NC voter ID law

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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.

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About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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51 thoughts on “Updated: Federal court strikes down controversial NC voter ID law

  1. bsummers

    How great is it that “party leader” Don Yelton is cited in this opinion?

    “If [SL 2013-381] hurts the whites so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.” See J.A. 1313-14; Joe Coscarelli, Don Yelton, GOP Precinct Chair, Delivers Most Baldly Racist Daily Show Interview of All Time, New York Magazine, Oct. 24, 2013. These statements do not prove that any member of the General Assembly necessarily acted with discriminatory intent. But the sheer outrageousness of these public statements by a party leader does provide some evidence of the racial and partisan political environment in which the General Assembly enacted the law. ”
    http://electionlawblog.org/wp-content/uploads/nc-4th.pdf

    • boatrocker

      Wow- finally some good news from NC.
      Yelton did rational NC citizens the best good deed possible when he accidentally spoke his and the GOPs truth. Thanks, man!

      I guess this is why the country fought that bloody and costly Civil War a while back- so when a state passes a BS law that takes away voting rights and thumbs their nose at the Constitution, the Federal Gov’t can reign in their leash.
      Thanks, Lincoln. (singing) “Mine eye have the seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…”

      Speaking of sudafed, I agree that it’s ridiculous to require a photo ID to purchase cold medicine, and so much easier to cure a cold with a legally purchased AR 15 with no background check. Sounds reasonable to me.

  2. Matt McClure

    This is wonderful news! And a really well written opinion by the appeals panel.

    I didn’t’ know Apodaca led this bill, too. ( In addition to the recent attempt to personally redistrict Asheville) Must be frustrating for him to see them both get blocked.

    • luther blissett

      He’s already resigned and started the clock ticking down on when he can become a lobbyist. (As soon as the new NCGA is sworn in, more or less.) Likewise, the other state legislators responsible for this Jim Crow 2.0 won’t suffer, either: their districts are safe enough, in part because they drew the maps, in part because most of their supporters don’t really think African-Americans should be able to vote.

      This wasn’t just discrimination: it was careful, deliberate, data-driven discrimination, the same kind of M.O. that draws districts to let elected Republicans pick their voters or attempts to impose stupid districts on cities. But I see that the Voter Suppression Project is whining and whining and whining, even though it was pointed out in the judgement that absentee fraud (which it basically ignores, because white people) actually happens. (They’re still celebrating the Asheville districting bill on their home page, even though it was voted down. Muppets.)

      • Lulz

        LOL, we have over 30 million illegals in the country and open borders lulz. But while you moral morons preach your lunacy, the nation is 20 trillion in the hole lulz. And when that comes due fools, elections will be meaningless. Courtesy of the people who are for lower voter standards compared to purchasing alcohol. Think about that. You people hold higher standards when buying alcohol to voting.

        • luther blissett

          “Think about that. You people hold higher standards when buying alcohol to voting.”

          Yawn. Once again, LulzL0L!1lulz has no real response and instead blows out lots of chaff and smoke.

          This was never about “standards”, so don’t pretend that it was. If it was, then there’d be “standards” for absentee voting where there are verified cases of impersonation through forged signatures and people forced to vote under duress.

          If it were about “standards” then you’d support a single consistent standard from state to state and county to county, instead of 3000 variations on 50 themes, subject to the whims of partisan county election officials. If it were about “standards” you’d support a federal role in administering a registration database that would make it easier for states to keep their own voter rolls updated. If it were about “standards” you’d be comfortable having election monitors on the ground. If it were about “standards” you’d be outraged at four-hour lines to vote on Election Day.

          You’re just one of those people who never got over the 15th Amendment. Or the 19th. Think about that lol lUlZ LOl.

          • Lulz

            I’m all for election monitors. And not the black panthers that showed up in the last election with bats to ward off people.

          • Lulz

            Oh and considering it was 3 democrat appointed judges who RULED, no surprise. But say states that enforce border laws are like sued by the feds, why what standards are we talking about here? Banana Republics like this one devolve into chaos. And a nation where laws are applied on IDEOLOGICAL merits alone is doomed. But by all means continue to believe we “Americans” will be united. But why oh why did they need an ID to enter the DNC convention? Or why oh why was a fence ERECTED around it while those speaking there promised that one would never be built at the border? See fool, your standards don’t equally apply because what’s good for one segment isn’t for the other. In other words loon, you are a hipocrtite.

          • bsummers

            Or the 26th. Don’t forget those “college students, voting liberal”, as the GOP politician in New Hampshire railed against.

            They’re great at revealing what the real purpose is, aren’t they?

        • boatrocker

          I always like when ‘you people’ is used in that context to denigrate. You people as in the law of the land you mean?
          Sadly, more Americans buy booze than vote.
          And happily when religious loony loons tried to take away our alcohol, that awful law was scrapped as it was a solution looking for a problem too. Cheers!

      • boatrocker

        I more than agree with your post and ideas-
        but be careful little man- when you f with the Muppets.

  3. MMH

    Jennifer Roberts and Roy Cooper are the people in NC who are responsible for all this mayhem. Did you know that Roy Cooper who wants to be Governor actually manipulated the PAYPAL decision not to expand in CLT ? Did you know that he personally called several companies requesting they curtail their NC operations to hurt the economy in NC ? I cannot think any other more evil, underhanded NC democrackkks in NC as either of these two nasty people who ‘serve’ us…and both of them are about the goofiest looking white people around!

    • NFB

      Ah. Changed your screen name yet again, “unaffiliated” voter, Yep, etc. etc.

    • hauntedheadnc

      Ah yes, Jennifer Roberts, mayor of Charlotte. The inclusive ordinance went into effect under her leadership, forcing the state government to respond as it did.

      Sorry, Fisher, but “You made me beat you.” is not a valid defense. Not when an abusive husband says it about a wife, and not when an abusive state goveernment says it about a city.

      As for your claims of nefarious Cooper shenanigans, cite your source. Bear in mind that right-wing conspiracy message boards do not count as a legitimate news source.

      • bsummers

        Too right. At this rate, Fisher may have to change the name of his sockpuppet again sooner than usual…

      • MMH

        it’s been in the effin NEWS ! ! Pay attention so you don’t look so IGNORANT, Gordo!

        • hauntedheadnc

          If you bring it up, it’s your responsibility to back it up with legitimate sources.

          …So either do so, or admit that you’re full of it and we’ll all move on.

    • boatrocker

      Seen a picture of the guy running for prez on the GOP ticket recently? Cruz? Those guys are no lookers for sure.

    • boatrocker

      Soon…have patience. There’s a time difference between NC and TX.

    • Huhsure

      He tried to imply, in the CT article’s comments, that because the Buncombe GOP repudiated Yelton’s racist comments, that the reasoning behind the ruling was somehow suspect. Seriously.

  4. Buncombe County Republican Party response to Yelton’s buffoonery:

    BCGOP Statement on Fourth Circuit Ruling
    Friday, July 29, 2016

    Asheville, NC — This afternoon, a three judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the commonsense reforms of North Carolina’s 2013 Voter ID law. While the Buncombe County Republican Party respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision, in reaching it, the court cited hateful and racist comments made by former Buncombe County Republican precinct chairman Don Yelton before the House Elections Committee and, perhaps most notoriously, on an episode of The Daily Show.

    When those comments first came to light in October 2013, the Buncombe County Republican Party expressed its profound disappointment in Yelton’s remarks, deeming them “offensive, uniformed, and unacceptable.”

    At the time, the local party demanded Yelton’s immediate resignation from his post as precinct chair — a post he also had been forced from just the year before in a separate incident which involved breaking party rules.

    “Once again, our party has to apologize for people like Yelton,” said BCGOP Chairman Nathan West. “Yelton and his cronies are like a chronic case of hemorrhoids: a real pain in the ass that you can never seem to get rid of.”

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/m99umrcz63p4kt2/NCGOP%20Yelton.pdf?dl=0

  5. bsummers

    Losing on the Voter Suppression front has really pissed them off. On one of the Tea Party sites this morning, one or two of them are talking about forming militias…

  6. A Thought concerning the US Court of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit ruling on Voter ID.

    Lets boil the case down to the basics: Are Americans of African Descent to STUPID to get a driver license or state issued ID? Well, it would seem so, according to the Courts ruling. And if, I was a American of African descent I would be highly insulted by these Judges, their ruling and the so-called leaders of Americans of African descent who were plaintiffs in the case.

    • bsummers

      Most of them I know are smart enough to spell the word “too” correctly. So there’s THAT…

        • bsummers

          I think you know full well that the court wasn’t saying that anyone is too stupid to get an ID. The point is that African Americans (and other demographics that tend to vote Democratic) ALSO tend to have higher rates of not having a drivers license. The costs and challenges in getting one mean that some can’t or won’t. This suppresses turnout of those groups. We all know that this was the intent of North Carolina’s Voter ID law. The court recognized that. As Don Yelton himself said,rats’) special voting blocks. … That within itself is the reason for the photo voter ID, period, end of discussion,” according

        • bsummers

          Don’t do this on a tablet…

          Don said that causing lower Democratic turnout “is the reason for the photo voter ID, period, end of discussion,” in a legislative hearing on the bill. He said out loud what we all know.

          Get over yourself, Mr. Brown. We know this was an attempt to shave a few points off of Democratic voters, and it failed.

          • luther blissett

            The fundamental fallacy here is the belief that voting should be difficult. It shouldn’t. The main job of the Voter Suppression Project has been to instil the idea that unless (certain) voters are made to jump through bureaucratic hoops, you can’t guarantee the integrity of an election. This is BS, and it taps into a deep strand of American political culture, especially in the South, that perpetuated poll taxes and ridiculous literacy tests. Some people just don’t believe in free and fair elections.

  7. bsummers

    Don Yelton was hardly a central figure in this decision. He had literally the smallest constituency in the North Carolina GOP. He got two votes for precinct chair – his and his wife’s. His challenger got one vote – his.

    I like Don, personally. He’s a genuine fellow, despite his obvious biases. I feel bad for him that he’s going to get flack over this.

    • Barry actually said, “I feel bad for him that he’s going to get flack over this.”

      Says the troll who began this thread with reference to Yelton’s role in the court decision. He really thought no one would notice.

  8. Jason

    Ha ha! THe FEDS are sticking it to NC REPUBLITARDS BIG TIME; and I LOVE IT!!!!

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