In 2013, North Carolina drew national attention when it passed the nation’s most restrictive voting law—currently the subject of a challenge in federal court. The Republican-backed measure likely kept tens of thousands of voters, disproportionately minorities, from the polls last fall. But a subtler maneuver—and one that, until now, has largely flown under the radar—could throw up another major roadblock for non-white would-be voters next year, when the state figures to once again be a presidential battleground. Last year, North Carolina’s county election boards, which are controlled by Republicans, moved the location of almost one-third of the state’s early voting sites. Those changes, according to new data analysis by a consulting firm that was shared with MSNBC, will significantly increase the distance African-Americans have to travel to vote early, while leaving white voters largely unaffected.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
North Carolina: 2 sides argue in federal court over timing of redistricting lawsuit on legislative primaries | Associated Press
Attorneys representing the state and registered voters argued before a three-judge panel on Monday about the impact of a lawsuit filed over North Carolina’s legislative district maps on the state’s 2016 primaries. The plaintiffs say the lines drawn by Republican lawmakers for nearly 30 House and Senate districts are illegal because they relied too much on race. They don’t want the districts used in 2016 and want candidate filing delayed until updated boundaries are set. Attorneys for the state say the judges should delay any decision until other redistricting litigation is resolved. There are three pending redistricting cases. The boundaries have never been struck down and were used in the 2012 and 2014 elections.
This is no longer Mayberry. The truth is, we haven’t been for some time. But the recession has accelerated the process of reshaping North Carolina. The metropolitan areas are struggling to keep up with the fast-paced growth as they attract people from around the state and the country. Meanwhile, the countryside is emptying out, a sad panorama of empty store fronts and padlocked plant gates. Since the 2010 census, about half of North Carolina’s 100 counties have lost population, said Allan Parnell, a demographer with the Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities. He spoke at a forum last week at N.C. State University that was focused on the political process of drawing lawmakers’ district boundaries. The county that has lost the most population was Rockingham County, home of Senate leader Phil Berger.
North Carolina: Voting law opponents plan to file preliminary injunction against photo ID | Winston-Salem Journal
The North Carolina NAACP wants a federal judge to stop the photo-ID requirement from taking effect during the March 2016 primary elections. Attorneys for the civil-rights organization filed court papers on Friday indicating that they planned to seek a preliminary injunction. The photo-ID requirement was passed along with a number of other provisions in a sweeping elections law that Gov. Pat McCrory signed in August 2013. The law is known as the Voter Information Verification Act.This will be the second time the state NAACP has sought a preliminary injunction over the controversial elections law. The group sought one last year.
In new court filings, the N.C. NAACP and others said North Carolina’s photo ID requirement is still discriminatory, despite an amendment passed this summer that eased the restrictions. The filings come about two weeks after U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against North Carolina’s voter-identificiation requirement. Schroeder had ordered plaintiffs to file an amended claim in the case by Nov. 6. State Republican legislators passed a sweeping elections law, known as the Voter Information Verification Act, in 2013. The law did a number of things, including reducing early voting days from 17 to 10 days, eliminating same-day voter registration and getting rid of out-of-precinct provisional voting. The law also required voters to show photo ID in 2016. Just three weeks before a trial in federal court this summer, state Republican legislators passed an amendment that allows voters without a photo ID to sign an affidavit outlining “reasonable impediments” to them getting a photo ID. If the affidavit is accepted, voters would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.
What happens on Election Day in a town where nobody runs for office? People can still fill out a write-in candidate, but what if there are only two people to choose from and they’re also the only two registered voters? Spencer Mountain in Gaston County hasn’t had a town government or a single voter in the last four years, but on Tuesday the only two people living there wrote themselves in on the ballot. “They’ve not had city council meetings, they’ve not had a mayor, they’ve had nothing, so it’s quite interesting,” said Adam Ragan. “It’s an interesting situation.”
A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the N.C. voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a 2015 change to the ID provision of an election law overhaul made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year. Advocates of the ID law say it is necessary to prevent voter fraud. But few cases have been prosecuted.
A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a change made this year to the ID provision of election law made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year.
Attorneys will update a federal judge Friday about their latest arguments over North Carolina’s voter ID provision that is set to go into effect in 2016. Lawyers representing state lawmakers contend the legal challenge should be dismissed. They say the issue is moot now, because legislators changed the law earlier this year to make it possible for some people to vote without a photo identification card. The NAACP and others have contended that requiring IDs to vote has a disproportionate negative impact on minority voters, who don’t always have access to birth certificates and other documents needed for the identification cards. Though the 2015 amendment to the elections law overhaul now makes it possible to vote without one of the six specified IDs, the challengers have asked for more time to study the practical effect. They also have questioned whether elections officials have had adequate time to educate the public about the most recent version of voting laws.
North Carolina: Another redistricting case awaits verdict, this time over 2 congressional seats | Associated Press
Another panel of judges is considering whether some electoral districts drawn by North Carolina Republicans four years ago and used in the past two elections are illegal because too many black residents were placed inside of them. Three federal judges held a three-day trial in Greensboro this past week that examined the legality of a pair of congressional districts that have consistently elected black Democrats for more than 20 years. They didn’t immediately rule. An ultimate favorable decision — likely after more appeals — for voters who sued could require the General Assembly redraw the 1st and 12th Congressional Districts that are being challenged, and likely force adjustments to adjoining districts.