For the past two weeks, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has presided over a crowded federal courtroom as lawyers challenging key provisions of the state’s election law presented witness after witness. This week, attorneys for the state began presenting their witnesses to counter claims by the NAACP, League of Women Voters and others that a 2013 North Carolina voting law overhaul was a not-so-subtle attempt to limit the participation of black, Hispanic and young voters in the electoral process. … On Monday, Trey Hood, a University of Georgia professor of political science, testified he could find no evidence that limiting the number of early-voting days had discouraged a significant number of people from voting.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
Last week, the City Council won a first victory in a federal lawsuit, halting a controversial redistricting law that would have fundamentally changed the council’s structure and how its members are elected. But council members said they realize that U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles’ decision late last week was the end of a battle, not the war. “It’s a step in the right direction,” Councilman Jamal Fox said. “It’s a big win for the people of Greensboro, but we know it’s not over.”
A federal court ruling halting the redrawing of Greensboro City Council districts has prompted plenty of finger-pointing in Raleigh, but the blame game is because of what happened at the defense table Thursday not the decision from the bench. No one showed up at the federal courthouse in Greensboro to defend the law creating the new districts, which was rammed through the General Assembly three weeks ago after hours of debate and plenty of political arm-twisting. “I was surprised that no one from the legislature filed anything,” Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn said. “They put so much time and effort into it, I thought that they would file a brief or be here in some capacity.”
North Carolina: Plaintiffs rest case in federal voting rights trial; state attorneys call first witness | Winston-Salem Journal
After two weeks, attorneys representing the N.C. NAACP and other groups rested their case Friday, having called more than 40 witnesses who testified either in court or via video depositions, that North Carolina’s election law is racially discriminatory. Now, it is the state’s turn to present evidence. Attorneys representing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory called Janet Thornton, an economist, as their first witness. Thomas Farr, one of the attorneys for the state, said they expect to finish presenting evidence by Wednesday. The N.C. NAACP and other groups, including the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing North Carolina and McCrory over House Bill 589, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly in July 2013. McCrory signed the legislation into law in August 2013. The law eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting, got rid of preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting, among other provisions.
North Carolina: State director: 96,000 might have been denied vote if election law had been in effect | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina’s election director Kim Strach testified Wednesday that more than 96,000 people who used same-day voter registration in 2012 might not have been able to cast a ballot if the state’s controversial election law had been in effect. She also acknowledged that she could find no evidence of significant fraud in same-day voter registration. House Bill 589, which was signed into law August 2013, eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10, prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting and got rid of preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds. (Same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct voting will be allowed in the municipal elections in September because of a federal appeals court ruling).
North Carolina: Rutgers professor testifies in federal that voter fraud is rare | Winston-Salem Journal
North Carolina had two verified cases of voter fraud between 2000 and 2014 out of 35 million votes cast in municipal and presidential elections, an expert testified today in a federal trial over the state’s controversial election law. Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Rutgers University, said that voter fraud is rare nationally and in North Carolina. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory over House Bill 589, which state Republican legislators pushed in 2013. McCrory signed the legislation into law in August 2013. The law eliminated same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct provisional voting and reduced the days of early voting, among other changes. State Republican legislators said publicly that they pushed for the changes to ensure the integrity of the voting process and to stamp out the potential for voter fraud.
North Carolina: Judge rules against Greensboro City Council redistricting law | Greensboro News & Record
A federal judge ruled for the city Thursday, granting a permanent injunction against a new state law that remakes the City Council. That means the law will not go into effect for this City Council election cycle. Its ultimate fate will be decided at a future trial to take place before the 2017 election. Judge Catherine Eagles heard arguments for nearly two hours in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro before making a ruling. “It appears … that the new statute deprives Greensboro voters, alone among municipal voters in the state, of the right to change the city’s municipal government by referendum … without a rational basis,” Eagles wrote in her order Thursday. “The plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm should the 2015 election go forward under the new law.”
State Republican leaders deviated from customary practices to rush through the most significant election law changes in a generation, a Democratic state senator testified Tuesday. State Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, took the stand Tuesday afternoon in a trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory over a 2013 election law that curtailed or eliminated voting practices that they say result in undue burdens on black and Hispanic voters, poor voters and young voters. Stein said that state Republican leaders had worked with Democratic legislators in April to craft a much shorter version of House Bill 589 that dealt strictly with requiring registered voters to have a photo ID when they cast their ballots. The legislation passed the House and then was sent to the Senate Rules committee, where it sat for several months, Stein said.
North Carolina: North Carolina Just Relaxed Its Voter ID Law, But Will Voters Get The Memo? | Huffington Post
Voting rights advocates were at least somewhat pleased when the North Carolina General Assembly unexpectedly voted in June to modify the state’s strict requirement that voters present government-issued photo ID at the polls. But now, they’re concerned that the state won’t adequately educate people about the softened ID law before it goes into effect next year. In July 2013, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) had signed an extensive package of voting restrictions that included the photo ID provision along with cuts to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration. A federal judge is currently hearing arguments over whether that law discriminates against African-Americans, Latinos and students. The trial is considered one of the biggest tests of the recently weakened federal Voting Rights Act. Supporters of voter ID laws argue that they combat in-person impersonation fraud (although the supporters present little evidence of such fraud), while opponents say they reduce turnout among minorities and younger voters.
North Carolina: Expert: Voters would have faced longer lines in ’12 had election law been in place | Winston-Salem Journal
An expert testified today that voters would have encountered drastically longer lines in 2012 had many of the provisions of North Carolina’s controversial election law been in effect. Theodore Allen, a professor of integrated systems engineering at Ohio State University, testified this morning in a federal trial in which plaintiffs — including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice — are challenging North Carolina’s Voter Information Verification Act. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the legislation into law in August 2013. The plaintiffs are suing the state and McCrory. The law eliminated seven days of early voting, got rid of same-day voter registration and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting, among other changes. The law also required registered voters to have one out of eight qualifying photo IDs by 2016, though state legislators passed an amendment easing the restriction last month. The photo ID is not a part of the federal trial.