Are Voter ID Laws Unconstitutional?

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Are Voter ID Laws Unconstitutional?

If you live in North Carolina, you can leave your identification at home when you go to vote.


A panel of federal judges recently ruled against the state’s voter identification law, stating:


  • Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist.


Legislators supporting this law said they enacted it in order to combat voter fraud. The court essentially dismissed this as a pretext, saying that the law was enacted with “discriminatory intent” to suppress the votes of African Americans.


The court ruled against not only the voter ID requirement, but also other provisions of the law that altered election practices in the state. According to the court decision, the legislature imposed new requirements designed to affect African American voters more than voters of other races. For instance, African Americans disproportionately used preregistration of 16- and 17-year olds who will be 18 by Election Day. The 2013 law ended this practice, which the court concluded was a discriminatory action.


Attorney General Roy Cooper is refusing to appeal the decision, saying he agrees that the law is discriminatory. Governor Pat McCrory, who is facing a challenge from Cooper, condemned Cooper and the court decision:


  • We think it is the proper law, and it's amazing that the attorney general will not fulfill his oath of office to defend our laws of North Carolina. In fact, I question whether he should even accept a paycheck from the State of North Carolina anymore because he continues to not do his job.


The 2013 law made a variety of changes to the state’s election law, going well beyond just requiring identification to vote and ending preregistration. The federal court decision also invalidated provisions that allowed same-day registration, permitted out-of-precinct voting, and curtailed early voting from 17 days to 10 days.


To see how legislators voted on the final legislation, click here: Senate and House of Representatives.


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