An elections analyst testified Monday that North Carolina’s new voting law had no discernible impact on black voter turnout in the 2014 election. But attorneys for the N.C. NAACP and other groups suing the state and Gov. Pat McCrory objected to testimony from Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics, saying he is not qualified to be an expert. House Bill 589, which became law in 2013, is at the center of a federal trial in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem, which is in its third week. House Bill 589 eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the number of days for early voting from 17 to 10 and prohibited out-of-precinct provisional voting. The law also eliminated preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, among other provisions. Plaintiffs, including the U.S. Department of Justice, allege that the law imposes disproportionate burdens on blacks and Hispanics, poor people and young people, and that state Republican legislators had discriminatory intent in passing the law.
Attorneys representing North Carolina and McCrory deny the allegations and have used black voter turnout in the 2014 election to undercut arguments that the law has placed burdens on minorities.
Trende is the third expert witness that state attorneys have called to bolster their argument that the law cannot be burdensome if blacks voted at higher rates in 2014 — when some of the law’s provisions were in place — than they did in 2010.
Dale Ho, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, challenged Trende’s qualifications as an expert. Ho pointed out that unlike other experts called in the case, Trende does not have a doctorate degree — only a master’s degree in political science and a law degree.