National: After Contentious, Impromptu Debate on Enforcement Procedures, FEC Deadlocks on Two Advisory Opinion Requests, Approves a Third | In the Arena

Before the Federal Election Commission took up the scheduled agenda at today’s public meeting, a contentious debate broke out over its continued inability to agree on whether and how to revise its enforcement procedures. Commissioners have disagreed over how to handle fact-finding during enforcement investigations, as well as proposed guidelines on information sharing with the Department of Justice. In an hour-long back-and-forth, Commissioners McGahn, Hunter and Petersen all called for prompt consideration of the proposed Office of General Counsel (OGC) Enforcement Manual. Commission Chair Weintraub acknowledged that she had placed a hold on consideration of the manual, but criticized McGahn for publicly discussing the matter. While she did not explicitly state when she would remove the hold, Weintraub argued that only after a new general counsel is appointed and two new Commissioners are confirmed by the Senate would there be enough of a “level playing field” to warrant a vote on the manual. (There is currently one vacant seat on the Commission, and McGahn has announced his plans to leave in the near future.) Commissioner Walther (via phone connection) said that while the agency had made “unprecedented improvements in transparency” regarding its enforcement procedures, it needed to go further. Eventually, Chair Weintraub brought the discussion to a close, citing the fact that the matter was not included on the agenda.

National: GOP State Officials Blame Republican Obstructionism For Blocking Voting Restrictions | TPM

There’s a deep irony about a joint lawsuit Republican state officials in Arizona and Kansas have filed against the Obama administration in order to require voters to present proof of citizenship in order to register to vote: Republicans’ own national obstructionism on voting rights is a key blockade for the state-level restrictions to go through. The lawsuit, filed by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and following Scalia’s guidance issued in the Supreme Court case this July, claims that the Obama administration is illegally blocking Arizona and Kansas’ efforts to require proof of citizenship for registering to vote. The suit argues that failing to staff the vacant Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which is charged with overseeing voter registration guidelines related to the national voter registration form, is blocking these states’ ability to change their voter registration processes. “The lack of quorum unconstitutionally prevents Plaintiffs, in violation of the Tenth Amendment, from exercising their constitutional right, power, and privilege of establishing and enforcing voting qualifications, including voter registration requirements,” the states said in their complaint.

National: Senate committee delays vote on FEC nominees | Center for Public Integrity

President Barack Obama’s two nominees to the Federal Election Commission must wait a little longer for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee to vote on their nominations. Only Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appeared at this morning’s scheduled meeting, announcing that the committee had failed to reach a quorum, and therefore, couldn’t conduct a vote. But Schumer, the committee’s chairman, added during brief remarks that a vote on the FEC nominees — Democrat Ann Ravel and Republican Lee Goodman — could come as “early as tomorrow.” Rules Committee staff explained that senators could conduct a vote on Goodman and Ravel without scheduling another formal meeting, instead gathering together during a break in action when the full Senate meets in session. The Rules Committee’s recommendation would be forwarded to the full Senate, which would conduct a final appointment vote.

National: Commission To Improve Elections Meets in Philadelphia | Lawyers.com

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration met in Philadelphia yesterday to hear testimony given by experts from up and down the east coast and beyond on how to improve voting in America. The commission was created by President Obama this year to “promote the efficient administration of elections” in response to long lines and other glitches that have threatened the integrity of voting days in years past. The commission solicited input from election officials and academics on how to overcome technical and logistical obstacles that impede voting. Among the topics addressed were analytical methods to better distribute polling resources, the use of electronic signature databases for more streamlined registration, language access issues particularly for Asian and Latino voters, access for people with disabilities and emergency preparedness to salvage elections that are disrupted by major disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

National: Regulators to weigh bitcoin donations in politics | USAToday

Will digital dollars soon fund U.S. political campaigns? If a conservative political action committee has its way, supporters will be able to donate to federal elections using bitcoins, a relatively new form of virtual currency. The Conservative Action Fund PAC this week asked the Federal Election Commission to approve rules governing the use of this online form of currency. The move seeks to push the technology envelope for federal regulators who just last year endorsed political donations via text message for the first time. The FEC has 60 days to respond to requests such as these but can extend the amount of time it takes to consider the matter. “As bitcoins become a bigger part of the economy, we see a future in this … particularly among libertarian-minded voters,” said Dan Backer, the Conservative Action Fund lawyer who filed the FEC request.

National: Federal panel urged to reform election rules | Philadelphia Inquirer

Ellen Kaplan delivered a blunt message Wednesday to members of a presidential blue-ribbon panel on election reform. The 2012 vote in Philadelphia was a “national embarrassment” spoiled by massive confusion, partisanship, and mismanagement, said Kaplan, policy director of the watchdog group Committee of Seventy. She pointed to numbers such as the 26,986 provisional ballots cast, more than 12,000 of them by registered voters who should have been allowed to use voting machines, and almost 100 Republican poll inspectors who “were not permitted to sit” by their Democratic counterparts and had to get court orders. “Perhaps,” she added, in what could be a touch of overstatement, “the worst-run election in the city’s history.”

National: Recall elections becoming routine around nation | Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

There was a time, not so long ago, when the phrase “permanent campaign” described a state of mind. Now, as the number of state legislators who find themselves facing recall efforts mounts, the permanent campaign is taking on a much more literal meaning. The recall election, once reserved for forcing out elected officials accused of crimes, ethics violations or gross misconduct, has become an overtly political tool — there’s even an app for recalls now. Since 2011, voters in four states have successfully mounted petition drives to recall state legislators over new laws curbing the influence of public unions or expanding the reach of background checks on gun purchasers. The number of recalls has spiked dramatically in recent years. Of the 32 successful recalls in the United States since 1911, one third — 11 — have taken place since 2011.

National: Federal Election Commission could allow Bitcoin campaign donations | Politico

Coming soon to a political campaign near you: Bitcoin donations? The Federal Election Commission is poised to determine rules governing donations made in Bitcoins and how they apply to political campaigns. Attorneys for Conservative Action Fund PAC asked the agency decide if political candidates and outside groups are allowed to accept the digital currency, in addition to U.S. dollars. “As increasing numbers of individuals trade in Bitcoin, political parties and candidates also wish to accept and spend this new currency,” Dan Backer of DB Capitol Strategies wrote in the request. The request lays out 24 technical questions for the FEC regarding the use of Bitcoin as political contributions. Backer told POLITICO that he expects that by 2014, many federal candidates will be interested in accepting the currency — and that many donors will demand it. “We see a real future for this, especially among libertarian-minded supporters,” Backer said.

National: Harry Reid Keeps Expectations Low On Fixing Voting Rights Act | TPM

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) lamented the recent spate of laws aimed at restricting voting since the Supreme Court’s decision in late June to ax a centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act. But, notably, the Democratic leader tempered expectations when it comes to enacting a legislative fix to the portion of the 1965 law that the high court invalidated. “The Senate will debate the Voting Rights Act. We will examine these dangerous voter suppression efforts, and propose steps the Senate can take to ensure the right of every American to cast a ballot,” Reid said in a statement Wednesday.

National: Voting Rights Fix Tests Civil Rights Movement’s Strength | ABC

The same Voting Rights Act that grew partially from the March on Washington 50 years ago into one of the most successful civil rights-era laws has become a source of rancor, even straining the traditional coalition of Republicans and Democrats who have come together in favor of such vigilance. Marking half a century since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King gave voice to the aspirations of millions of African-Americans across the country is bittersweet for civil rights activists in 2013. “Within the civil rights movement, there is definitely a sense that there’s a continued war on voting and we haven’t made it to the mountain top yet,” said Katherine Culliton-González, director of Voter Protection for the Advancement project. “Here we are in 2013, at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and we’re having to try to stop going backwards.”

National: On the Anniversary of the March on Washington, a New Fight for Voting Rights | The Nation

During this week’s events commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, the fight for voting rights emerged as a central cause for the civil rights movement. In 1963, few blacks could vote in the states of the Old Confederacy. In 2013, there’s a black president, but the right to vote is under the most sustained attack—in the states and the courts—since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. At the official commemoration today, Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter voiced their dismay over the Supreme Court’s decision gutting the VRA and the rush to implement new voter suppression laws in seven Southern states since the ruling. “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon,” said Clinton, referencing a Texas voter ID law that accepts a concealed carry permit, but not a student ID, to cast a ballot. “I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the new ID requirements to exclude certain voters, especially African-Americans,” said Carter. “I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the Supreme Court striking down a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act just recently passed overwhelmingly by Congress.” We must challenge “those who erect new barriers to the vote,” said Obama.

National: Republicans Admit Voter ID Laws Are Aimed at Democratic Voters | The Daily Beast

Indeed, in a column for right-wing clearinghouse World Net Daily, longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly acknowledged as much with a defense of North Carolina’s new voting law, which has been criticized for its restrictions on access, among other things. Here’s Schlafly:

“The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that ‘early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election. The Obama technocrats have developed an efficient system of identifying prospective Obama voters and then nagging them (some might say harassing them) until they actually vote. It may take several days to accomplish this, so early voting is an essential component of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote campaign.”

She later adds that early voting “violates the spirit of the Constitution” and facilitates “illegal votes” that “cancel out the votes of honest Americans.” I’m not sure what she means by “illegal votes,” but it sounds an awful lot like voting by Democratic constituencies: students, low-income people, and minorities. Schlafly, it should be noted, isn’t the first Republican to confess the true reason for voter identification laws. Among friendly audiences, they can’t seem to help it.

National: Obama’s big voting rights gamble | POLITICO.com

Whatever President Barack Obama says at the March on Washington ceremony on Wednesday, his administration has already sent a loud message of its own: ramping up its push on voting rights by way of a risky strategy — and pledging more tough moves to come. The irony of the historical forces colliding at that moment won’t be lost on anyone. The nation’s first African-American president, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. stood 50 years earlier, will speak at a time when many African-Americans and other minorities feel that the Voting Rights Act — one of the proudest accomplishments of the civil rights movement — is being dismantled. The backdrop for the big event is a surge in voter ID laws and other restrictive election measures, and the legal fight the Obama administration has picked with Texas to stop the wave. It’s suing to block the state’s voter ID law from taking effect, a clear signal to other states to think twice before they pass any more restrictions on voting rights.

National: The growing fight against voting restrictions in the South | Facing South

This week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell — a Republican who served under President George W. Bush — called out North Carolina on its voter ID law while speaking at the CEO Forum in Raleigh. He said the law punishes minorities and is counterproductive for the Republican Party. He also said voter fraud doesn’t exist, as the News & Observer reported: “You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud,” Powell said. “How can it be widespread and undetected?” But restrictive, discriminatory voting laws are not exclusive to the Tar Heel state. When Hillary Clinton recently said North Carolina’s Voter Information Verification Act law was “the greatest hits of voter suppression,” she was referring to the fact that it draws from a number of election laws that states have attempted to pass, mostly in the South.

National: FEC Commissioners Battle to Partisan Inaction | Roll Call

The five commissioners of the Federal Election Commission are finding it almost impossible to reach agreement on almost anything these days. New commissioners may soon help. The Senate Rules Committee may have an early September vote on two new presidential nominees. The most recent example of inaction was a compliance case (MUR 6540) that reached an impasse in July with three Republicans voted to go against the recommendation of the Office of the General Counsel to find reason to believe the respondents violated (1) the prohibitions on corporate contributions in staging a rally supporting Senator Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign, and (2) made other prohibited contributions in the form of coordinated expenditures. Republican Commissioners McGahn, Hunter and Petersen voted against the recommendation. Democratic Commissioners Weintraub and Walther voted for it. With the impasse the Commission voted in July to close the case without taking any action.

National: GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner pledges to fix Voting Rights Act in 2013 | The Washington Post

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said Monday that he will attempt to replace, by the end of the year, the portion of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down by the Supreme Court. Sensenbrenner’s comments came Monday at an event hosted by the Republican National Committee, commemorating the March on Washington. Sensenbrenner said he wants to fix the law so that it is immune to court challenges.

National: States, Justice Department girding for battle over voting laws | McClatchy

Now comes the far-flung fallout from a Supreme Court decision in June blowing up a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A federal lawsuit filed Thursday against a Texas voter identification law seems certain to be followed by a similar suit against one in North Carolina. Other states, too, could face federal legal challenges over their actions in the wake of the high court’s decision. Congress, if it’s up to the task, could also get messy trying to partially restore the guts of the landmark 1965 law. The fights to come will span many fronts, including several of the 33 states that have passed voter identification laws. The separate conflicts, moreover, will inevitably cross-pollinate. One key lawmaker, tellingly, believes the federal action in Texas will “make it much more difficult” to get Voting Rights Act revisions through an already divided Congress. And, as in any global conflict, strategic thinking could pay dividends.

National: Voting Rights decision casts shadow over civil rights anniversary | Gainesville Times

As Americans commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, one of the key pieces of legislature accredited with advancing civil rights lingers in limbo. In April, a Supreme Court split along ideological and partisan lines voted 5-4 to strip the government of its most potent tool to stop voting bias: the requirement in the Voting Rights Act that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mainly in the South, get Washington’s approval before changing the way they hold elections. “Virtually everyone who has thought of this characterizes the Voting Rights Act as the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted,” said Charles Bullock, political science professor at the University of Georgia. “In Georgia, in 1962, prior to the adoption of the Voting Rights Act, only about 27 percent of adult blacks in Georgia were registered to vote. Now registration rates are pretty much identical to whites, and have been for awhile,” he said. “When that legislation was passed in Georgia there were three black offices holders. Now, there are thousands. It’s had a dramatic impact.” The decision was deplored by voting access activists and largely applauded by the states now free from nearly 50 years of intense federal oversight of their elections.

National: Voting rights a rallying cry at Martin Luther King march 50th anniversary event | The Hill

Senior Democrats and leaders of the civil rights and labor movements marked the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington by summoning a younger generation of activists to fight for a restoration of the Voting Rights Act to ensure universal access to the ballot box. As thousands ringed the Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial, speakers mixed themes of the past and present in paying tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech he delivered to combat racial discrimination. “Those days, for the most part, are gone, but we have another fight,” thundered Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights veteran and House Democrat who is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington. “There are forces who want to take us back. But we can’t go back.” Lewis and other leaders in the movement found a rallying cry in the June decision by the Supreme Court to strike down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, which has prompted states like Texas and North Carolina to move ahead with laws requiring voters to show photo identification. “I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us,” Lewis said. He urged the crowd to “make some noise” and “get in the way” to protect universal access to the polls. “The vote is precious,” he said. “It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in our democracy, and we have to use it.”

National: Colin Powell warns Republican voter ID laws will backfire | The Hill

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday predicted that Republican attempts to pass voter ID laws would “backfire” by energizing minorities to vote them out of office. Powell took aim at efforts on the state legislature level to require that people show photo identification to vote. “These kinds of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African Americans might vote I think are going to backfire, because these people are going to come out and do what they have to to vote, and I encourage that,” Powell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Following the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans in states like Texas and North Carolina are advancing legislation that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls. “They claim that there’s widespread abuse and voter fraud, but nothing substantiates that,” Powell said. “There isn’t widespread abuse.”

National: Senate committee to soon vote on FEC nominees | The Center for Public Integrity

The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will soon schedule an early September vote on two Federal Election Commission nominees, two sources close to the nomination process tell the Center for Public Integrity. Such a vote means the full Senate could consider — and potentially approve — the nominations of Republican Lee E. Goodman, an attorney at law firm LeClairRyan, and Democrat Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, within weeks. As of Friday evening, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, of which Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is chairman, had not published an official notice of the vote.

National: FEC Democrats Try to Run Clock Out on GOP Attempt To End Cooperation With Justice | Main Justice

The Federal Election Commission again postponed its scheduled discussion of a controversial proposal to make it more difficult for the commission to cooperate with the Department of Justice. But not before engaging in a heated discussion about whether and when the matter will be addressed. Explaining her “prerogative to hold the matter over,” Weintraub said that McGahn did not submit his proposed changes to the manual until 10 p.m. on June 9, which did not leave her or then-general counsel Anthony Herman enough time to review the changes. She said she didn’t hold the discussion on June 27 after receiving a request to postpone it the night before from Republican Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter and her GOP colleagues.The commission originally intended to take up the proposal during its public meeting on June 13. But commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub held over discussion and did so again when the commission members gathered on June 27, July 9 and July 22.

National: U.S. Is Suing in Texas Cases Over Voting by Minorities | New York Times

The Obama administration on Thursday escalated its efforts to restore a stronger federal role in protecting minority voters in Texas, announcing that the Justice Department would become a plaintiff in two lawsuits against the state. The Justice Department said it would file paperwork to become a co-plaintiff in an existing lawsuit brought by civil rights groups and Texas lawmakers against a Texas redistricting plan. Separately, the department said, it filed a new lawsuit over a state law requiring voters to show photo identification. In both cases, the administration is asking federal judges to rule that Texas has discriminated against voters who are members of a minority group, and to reimpose on Texas a requirement that it seek “pre-clearance” from the federal government before making any changes to election rules. In June, the Supreme Court removed the requirement by striking down part of the Voting Rights Act. “Today’s action marks another step forward in the Justice Department’s continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement, adding, “This represents the department’s latest action to protect voting rights, but it will not be our last.”

National: Justice Department sues Texas over voter ID law | The Washington Post

The Justice Department on Thursday redoubled its efforts to challenge state voting laws, suing Texas over its new voter ID measure as part of a growing political showdown over electoral rights. The move marked the latest bid by the Obama administration to counter a Supreme Court ruling that officials have said threatens the voting rights of minorities. It also signaled that the administration will probably take legal action in voting rights cases in other states, including North Carolina, where the governor signed a voter ID law this month. The Supreme Court in June invalidated a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that had forced certain jurisdictions to receive approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing their voting laws. The ruling, however, did not preclude the Obama administration from using other sections of the law.

National: The partisan Federal Election Commission | The Hill

It used to be broken by ideological divisions. But today it is broken by simple party politics. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) – the agency responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal campaign finance laws – is being swept under the bus of partisan one-up-manship. Republicans have gained a temporary one-seat majority on the Commission and they may take advantage of it for partisan purposes – namely, to associate the Obama Administration and Democrats generally with a conspiracy of using federal agencies to attack conservative nonprofit political organizations. In an unexpected twist, congressional Republicans Darrel Issa (R-Cal.) and Candice Miller (R-Mich.) have teamed up with at least one Republican colleague at the FEC in an effort to tie the agency to the ongoing story of whether high-level IRS staff inappropriately targeted the tax-exempt applications of groups based on partisanship. An email exchange from FEC staff to IRS staff requesting public information about the tax status of a conservative political organization prompted accusations of collusion between the two agencies for conspiring to persecute conservatives.

National: Struggle for Women’s Rights and Civil Rights Linked | Huffington Post

The nation commemorates two anniversaries this month. Women’s Equality Day on August 26 is federal recognition of the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment became law and women were granted the right to vote. Around the country, many communities are planning activities. Two days later, Americans will stop and remember the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his stirring “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. A march in Washington and a rally on the National Mall are planned for August 28. It is especially fitting that these two important dates are paired because the fight for racial equality is intertwined in the fight for women’s equality in our country’s history. Ultimately, what history teaches is that there is no racial equality and no gender equality without equality for all. That’s why Vision 2020, a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in the commitment to achieve women’s economic and social equality, works to build bridges across gender and racial divides.

National: Van Hollen files suit against IRS over tax-exemption rules | The Washington Post

A top House Democrat plans to file a lawsuit in federal district court Wednesday challenging the Internal Revenue Service’s interpretation of a law that governs whether groups qualify for tax-exempt status as so-called social welfare organizations. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, said Tuesday that he will serve as lead plaintiff in the case, which addresses one of the main concerns that surfaced with the recent IRS targeting controversy: differences between federal law and the IRS rules on eligibility for 501(c)(4) candidates. Current law says the organizations must engage “exclusively” in social welfare activities, but IRS tax code requires only that they are “primarily engaged” in such purposes. That discrepancy has led to confusion for application processors, who have struggled to determine what constitutes political activity and how much should disqualify groups from tax-exemption, according to agency officials.

National: Democrats push back on voting rights | The Washington Post

After crying foul over Republican efforts to modify election laws in key states, Democrats are launching their own wide-ranging push to change the way Americans vote, kicking off the latest battles in a fight over voting rights that’s as old as the republic itself. Last week, operatives tied to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee launched what they call a 50-state initiative to promote voting reforms that would make it easier to cast a ballot. The effort is being run by American Values First, an outside group organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and run by Michael Sargeant, the DLCC’s executive director. Democrats will push legislation similar to a Colorado measure signed into law earlier this year that requires all elections to be conducted by mail. Legislators in at least seven other states will propose bills that would tweak election laws in other ways. In some states controlled by Democrats, the measures have a good chance to pass. In other states with divided control or that operate under Republican control, Democrats plan to use the measures as political cudgels, painting the GOP as opposed to basic voting rights.

National: Obamacare: Can You Register to Vote at State Health Care Insurance Exchanges? | Stateline

Two of the fiercest political disputes between Washington and the states could soon come together in legal fights that involve tying the new federal health care overhaul to voter registration. Every state is preparing to open a health insurance exchange by Oct. 1. Whether these new agencies will offer voter registration as well as health care information is emerging as a potential fault line that could further divide states from one another and from Washington. The Obama administration and voting rights advocates say there’s no question the agencies must offer voter registration under federal law. But Republicans in Congress and in some states are pushing back, and even some election law experts aren’t so sure the question has an easy answer. So far, just three states have officially said they’ll link the exchanges and voter registration. But whether the rest will – or will be required to under federal law – is an open question that will likely lead to court battles and at least a temporary patchwork approach nationwide. “I don’t expect it to go evenly and don’t expect it to go well, initially,” said R. Doug Lewis, head of the National Association of Election Officials. “There’s not universal agreement about what can be done here, as you can imagine.”

National: The next round of the battle over voting rights has begun | The Washington Post

Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Monday challenging a new North Carolina voter ID law in one of the first tests of the legality of new voting restrictions being implemented after the Supreme Court struck down parts of the 1965 Civil Rights Act in June. The Advancement Project and North Carolina NAACP, who filed the suit, charge that the law’s voter requirements will make it harder to vote and that racial minorities will be disproportionately impacted because they are less likely to possess required forms of identification. The lawsuit also argues voter fraud is not a significant problem in North Carolina. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory defended his signing of the law as common sense way to guard the integrity of North Carolina’s election process, insisting that the law is needed to ensure “no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot.” In a statement, McCrory also noted that voters won’t be required to present photo identification until the 2016 elections.