A federal court panel ruled late Friday that two of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts were racially gerrymandered and must be redrawn within two weeks, sparking uncertainty about whether the March primary elections can proceed as planned. An order from a three-judge panel bars elections in North Carolina’s 1st and 12th congressional districts until new maps are approved. Challengers of North Carolina’s 2011 redistricting plan quickly praised the ruling, while legislators who helped design the maps said they were disappointed and promised a quick appeal. “This ruling by all three judges is a vindication of our challenge to the General Assembly of North Carolina writing racially biased ‘apartheid’ voting districts to disenfranchise the power of the African-vote,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of North Carolina’s NAACP chapter.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
North Carolina: Does voter ID law suppress minority votes? A federal judge will decide. | Los Angeles Times
Coming of age in the Jim Crow South, Rosanell Eaton was one of the first African Americans to register to vote in her rural corner of North Carolina. After riding for two hours to the county courthouse on a mule-drawn wagon, the granddaughter of a slave was forced to take a literacy test—reciting the preamble of the U.S. Constitution—before she could vote. Seventy years later, the 94-year-old is at the center of a new struggle as the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit to overturn North Carolina’s voter identification law, which requires most voters to show an approved form of photo ID at the polls. While supporters of the new law, which came into effect January, say it provides a bulwark against potential election fraud and is a minor administrative hassle that applies equally to all, critics contend that it disproportionately burdens African American and Latino voters, and that Republican legislators intentionally drafted it to obstruct minority voting. The six-day trial wrapped up Monday, but U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, an appointee of President George W. Bush, is not expected to hand down a verdict before voters go to the polls for the state’s March 15 presidential primary.
North Carolina: State NAACP to redouble efforts to get out vote in light of photo ID requirement | Winston-Salem Journal
A day after a federal trial on North Carolina’s photo ID voting requirement wrapped up, the president of North Carolina chapter of the NAACP announced a massive effort to register voters across the state. The Rev. William Barber said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that it is imperative that he and others do everything they can to make sure every voter is able to cast a ballot in the March primaries. Early voting for the primary starts March 3. “On today, we understand that we must fight to overcome burdens as we fight to undue those burdens,” he said.
Monday marked the end of a six-day trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem over the requirement, which took effect this year, that voters show a photo ID at the polls.
In the final session of a trial that could yield a crucial decision about a policy that has been disputed for years, a federal judge heard closing arguments on Monday about North Carolina’s voter identification law. The arguments capped a six-day bench trial, before Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of Federal District Court, that included emotional testimony about voting rights and technical analyses of the law’s impact. The outcome will be seen as an important measure of what voting-related laws federal courts might allow states to pursue and enforce. The North Carolina chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. and other plaintiffs argued Monday, as they have for months, that the Republican-controlled General Assembly drafted the voter identification law in 2013 as a surreptitious way to curb the influence of black and Hispanic voters. The N.A.A.C.P. has argued that those voters are less likely to have one of the six accepted forms of identification required and often face more hardship in obtaining them. “They knew that all these provisions, taken individually and together, have racially discriminatory intent,” said Catherine Meza, a lawyer for the United States Justice Department, which joined the N.A.A.C.P. in the litigation.
North Carolina: Legislature ‘intentionally passed’ discriminatory voter ID law, lawyer says | The Guardian
The North Carolina legislature “intentionally passed a law that would discriminate against African Americans and Latinos”, an attorney told a federal judge on Monday in a case that could have broad implications for the 2016 election. The federal court in Winston Salem heard closing arguments in a trial over the state’s newly implemented voter identification law. The rule, which went into effect on 1 January, requires citizens to show state-issued photo ID before casting a ballot. The challenge to the law, led by the state chapters of the NAACP and League of Women Voters as well as the US Department of Justice, argued that the requirements were racially discriminatory to black and Latino citizens who are less likely to have photo ID or the means to acquire it. North Carolina is just one of 15 states where restrictive new voting laws will go into effect for the 2016 election and are forecast to disproportionately disenfranchise black and Latino Americans. The proceedings were the latest in the convoluted legal battle that has been unfolding in North Carolina since the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed HB 589 in July 2013. As well as mandating voter ID, the law significantly shortened the window for early voting, prevented citizens from voting outside their district, ended the preregistration of 17-year-olds, and stopped same-day registration, where voters register on the same day they cast a ballot.
In closing arguments Monday, North Carolina’s photo ID requirement was described by attorneys for the North Carolina NAACP as a racially discriminatory law that places unconstitutional burdens on blacks and Hispanics. Attorneys representing Gov. Pat McCrory and state elections officials called the change in the law a mere inconvenience, saying it would affect a small group of people. Penda Hair, an attorney for the N.C. NAACP, said evidence presented during the trial clearly shows that the photo ID requirement would make it harder for blacks and Hispanics to cast ballots in this year’s election. It’s undisputed, she said, that blacks disproportionately lack the kinds of photo IDs that they would need to show when they come to the polls.
Closing arguments in a closely watched federal trial on North Carolina’s photo ID requirement for voting will be Monday. Friday marked the first full day of evidence from attorneys defending state elections officials, state Republican legislators and Gov. Pat McCrory over the voter ID requirement that went into effect this year. The requirement is part of the state’s Voter Information Verification Act that legislators passed and McCrory signed into law in 2013. The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice and others filed a federal lawsuit over the provisions of the law, alleging that they are unconstitutional and violate the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The plaintiffs allege two things: that the law — including the photo ID requirement — puts undue burdens on black and Hispanic voters, and that state Republican legislators had discriminatory intent in passing the legislation.
For the past week, attorneys arguing for and against North Carolina’s new voter ID law at the federal trial in Winston-Salem have raised and knocked down the specter of voter fraud. The rule – that North Carolina voters show one of six photo identification cards before casting a ballot – was adopted in 2013. Republicans who had won control that year of both General Assembly chambers and the governor’s office touted the elections law overhaul as a way to preserve the integrity of one person, one vote.
Lawyers and advocates were back in a courtroom in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Monday, for a second challenge to the state’s strict new voting laws. A group of plaintiffs, led by the NAACP and the Department of Justice, is seeking to overturn a new rule, which is set to take effect in March’s primaries, requiring voters to present a photo ID before voting. The voter-ID law was one of several major changes made by Republicans who control the Old North State’s government, in a 2013 law passed shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a clause in the Voting Rights Act that required some states to seek approval of changes to voting laws from the Justice Department. In addition to requiring a photo ID to vote, the new rules reduced early voting; ended same-day voter registration; banned the practice of casting ballots out of precinct; and ended pre-registration for teens. Proponents said the laws were essential to guarantee the integrity of the state’s elections. A group of plaintiffs sued the state, alleging that the changes would suppress minority votes and that they represented the return of Jim Crow to the South. In July, federal district-court Judge Thomas Schroeder heard a challenge to some of those provisions, but not to the voter-ID law.
North Carolina: NAACP lawyers grill elections director in trial over photo IDs | Winston-Salem Journal
After four days of testimony, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice rested their case Thursday in a federal trial challenging North Carolina’s photo ID requirement for voting. Their last witness was Kim Strach, the state’s elections director. It was through sharp questioning of Strach that plaintiffs argued that state elections officials had failed to educate the public about a recent amendment to the photo ID requirement that state Republican legislators passed last June. The amendment allows voters who don’t have photo ID to fill out and sign a “reasonable impediment” declaration form. That form has examples of reasons why voters weren’t able to get one of six acceptable photo IDs, including lack of transportation, work schedule or not having the necessary underlying documents, such as a birth certificate. After filling out the form, voters will get to cast a provisional ballot that will be counted later after their reasons are verified.