Does North Carolina’s voter ID law illegally discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos? That question is at the center of a trial over the law held this week in a federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. If the law is upheld, it could make voting harder this fall in the Tar Heel State, which figures to be pivotal in the presidential race. And it could give a green light to other states considering similarly restrictive voting laws. During the first two days of the trial Monday and Tuesday, the law’s challengers aimed to show that racial minorities are more likely than whites to lack acceptable ID; that there’s no significant voter fraud of the kind that could stopped by the ID requirement; and that the state hasn’t done enough to educate voters about the law.
Rosanell Eaton, a 94-year old African-American woman who was made to recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution to vote under Jim Crow, testified via video Monday that, because her name was spelled differently on different documents, she had to take 10 separate trips to various state offices in order to get an ID that complies with the law. Sylvia Kent described a similarly frustrating process in trying to get IDs for her two elderly disabled sisters.
Barry Burden, an expert on election administration at the University of Wisconsin, testified — in line with plenty of other research — that the ID requirement places a greater burden on blacks and Latinos than on whites, thanks in part to the state’s history of racial bias. And he questioned the rationale offered for the law by its supporters — the need to stop voter fraud. Burden said fraud is much more common among those who cast absentee ballots than those who vote in person, yet the law doesn’t require ID for absentee ballots.
Six weeks after the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act (VRA), North Carolina Republicans passed a sweeping voting law that included not only an ID requirement but also cuts to early voting, the elimination of same-day voter registration, and several other measures that make it harder to cast a ballot. Speaking to MSNBC Tuesday, Donita Judge, a lawyer with the Advancement Project, one of the civil rights groups challenging the law, called it “an omnibus monster voter suppression bill.”
Full Article: North Carolina’s voter ID law on trial | MSNBC.