Not a “nefarious thing”?By
“Your honor, I hope that I can persuade you that it was not a nefarious thing,” replied Thomas A. Farr, an attorney for the state of North Carolina. He was arguing yesterday to uphold the state’s sweeping 2013 voting changes before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. One of the judges seemed skeptical:
Judge Henry F. Floyd questioned the timing of the changes — done after Republicans took control of state government for the first time in a century and after the U.S. Supreme Court undid key provisions of the Voting Rights Act — and whether they weren’t done to suppress minority votes for political gain.
“It looks pretty bad to me,” Floyd said.
Floyd was not the only judge on the panel who appeared skeptical. Talking Points Memo:
The U.S. Justice Department, state NAACP, League of Women Voters and others sued the state, saying the restrictions violated the remaining provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals fast-tracked the review in an expected presidential battleground state, with competitive races for governor and U.S. Senate.
Voters must now show one of six qualifying IDs, although those with “reasonable impediments” can fill out a form and cast a provisional ballot. The voter ID mandate began with this year’s March primary.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Judge James A. Wynn Jr. asked pointed questions about why public assistance IDs, used disproportionally by minorities, were not acceptable in the final version of the law.
“Why did they take it out?” asked Wynn, a former North Carolina state appeals judge.
After the lower court ruled against the plaintiffs, Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog observed that the plaintiffs had been asked to “present tons of evidence of burden” that new restrictions placed on minority voters while “the state can get by with no evidence of a need.” That burden seemed to have shifted yesterday:
The plaintiffs say the changes discourage voting by black and Hispanic residents, who use early voting or same-day registration more than white voters and are more likely to lack photo ID. Southern Coalition for Social Justice attorney Allison J. Riggs said North Carolina’s GOP lawmakers enacted a specific and unprecedented attack on minority voting rights that continued the state’s tradition of suppressing minority rights.
“They knew the disproportionate impact of every one of these provisions,” she said.
Even on their own voters, I argued in 2014:
And this. The state Board of Elections last year estimated that 67,639 registered Republicans had no photo identity cards (over 2/3 women). But 176,091 Democrats. To retain power in 2016, Republican leaders are playing percentages, sacrificing thousands of supporters, potentially, as acceptable casualties.
But what’s a little voter disenfranchisement among friends?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)