October 22, 2021

North Carolina court strikes down controversial voter ID law

Last week, a North Carolina court ended a 2018 GOP-backed voter identification law, siding with those who argued that the provision makes it harder for Black voters to participate in the election process and that it was enacted with discriminatory purpose, according to the Associated Press.

As The Hill noted, the photo voter ID requirements were put in place following a ballot referendum in which the state electorate approved a constitutional amendment mandating that identification be presented at the polls.

Two judges out of the three-judge panel found that the provision at issue was “motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters” following a three-week trial, as the AP also noted.

In an opinion spanning 211 pages, the judges declared that even though the Republican-backed law was the result of primarily partisan motivations rather than racial animus, it targeted Black voters and therefore was discriminatory in its ends.

The ruling, expressing the decision of Superior Court Judges Michael O’Foghludha and Vince Rozier declared, “In reaching this conclusion, we do not find that any member of the General Assembly who voted in favor of [the law] harbors any racial animus or hatred toward African American voters, but rather…that the Republican majority target[ed] voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constitute[s] racial discrimination.”

In response to the decision, an attorney for North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore opined, “liberal judges have defied the will of North Carolinians on election integrity,” according to the AP, and Cabarrus County lawmaker Sen. Paul Newton added, “Photo voter ID laws are designed to bolster confidence in elections. Calling this new law irredeemably racist does the exact opposite.”

Judge Nathaniel Poovey penned a dissent in the case, stating his belief that there was “not one scintilla of evidence” presented during the trial that any lawmakers involved in passage of the law acted with racial animus or discriminatory intent, according to CNBC.

Poovey contended that the plaintiffs in the case offered evidence that relied “heavily on the past history of other lawmakers and used an extremely broad brush to paint the 2018 General Assembly with the same toxic paint.”

It is expected that the ruling will be appealed, and only time will tell whether the fate of the North Carolina law will ultimately reflect the will of voters in that state as well as the vast majority of Americans who support requiring photo identification as a condition of casting a ballot.

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