For the past week in North Carolina, that state’s new Voter ID law has been argued in federal court. Among those testifying against the law was Rosanell Eaton, a black woman who, at 94, still can remember having to recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution before voting under the state’s old Jim Crow laws, and who last year had to make 10 trips to various state offices to get an ID that complies with North Carolina’s new law. But guess what? North Carolina’s Voter ID law—the one that landed the state in federal court, in a case that’s being called a national Voter ID battleground—is less restrictive than is North Dakota’s Voter ID law. In North Carolina, among other differences, a voter can sign an affidavit swearing that he or she faced a “reasonable impediment” to getting an acceptable ID. In North Dakota, a voter in that situation is out of luck.
In Virginia, the Voter ID law in that state will go to court next month, too. The plaintiffs will argue that the state’s new rules on acceptable IDs unfairly and undeniably discriminate against poor people and minorities. And guess what? Virginia allows more forms of ID than does North Dakota. In Virginia, voters can show a Virginia voter registration card, Virginia driver’s license, U.S. passport, other local or Virginia or federal ID, a concealed handgun permit, a student ID from a Virginia college or an employee identification card.
In North Dakota, voters at the polls must produce either a driver’s license, official nondriver ID, tribal ID or (in special circumstances) military ID or long term care certificate. That’s it. And as State Rep. Marvin Nelson pointed out Saturday in his column on this page, even people with those IDs can be turned away, because many of those documents—especially tribal IDs—don’t show the voter’s current address.
North Dakotans may not realize it, but their Voter ID law that’s now in place actually is the most restrictive in the nation. In practice, “restrictive” amounts to “discriminatory”—as the NAACP argues in court in Virginia and North Carolina, as members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa claim in the lawsuit they filed last month …