Two pivotal court cases in North Carolina will determine the balance of political power in the state for years to come, and may signal the future of voting rights nationwide. In the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder that gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina legislators passed H.B. 589, which shortened early voting by a week, eliminated same day registration during the early voting period, prohibited voters from casting out-of-precinct provisional ballots, expanded the ability to challenge voters at the polls, removed the pre-registration program for 16- and 17-year-olds and implemented a strict photo ID requirement. Lawmakers eased the photo ID requirement leading up to N.C. NAACP vs. McCrory. In that case, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that H.B. 589 discriminates against black and other minority voters.
Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney with the Advancement Project, a multiracial civil rights group, called the N.C. voting law “the most onerous voting law in the country” and said that it combines nearly every conceivable voter suppression tactic to attack voting at every step of the process.
“[H.B. 589] makes it harder to register to vote, harder to cast a ballot, and harder to have that ballot counted,” said Lieberman.
During the trial, lawyers for the state chapter of the NAACP presented clear evidence that each of these provisions was designed with the intent to discriminate and has the impact of disproportionately burdening the right to vote for African American and Latino voters in North Carolina, said Lieberman.