The Justice Department will raise the stakes in its fight against controversial voter ID laws by filing a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina to block recently adopted legislation. In August, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed some of the strictest voter ID laws, not long after the summer's controversial Supreme Court decision that struck down an integral section of the Voting Rights Act.
The law has yet to go into practice, but according to the Associated Press, Attorney General Eric Holder will file suit on Monday challenging the constitutionality of the new laws. The Justice Department recently announced similar legal action against restrictive voter ID laws in Texas, too.
The DOJ, joining previous suits from the ACLU and the North Carolina NAACP, will try to restore the first seven days of early voting eliminated by the law and, most importantly, the requirement the voters present a state ID to register to vote. The most recent numbers show between 203,352 and 318,643 registered voters in the state lack a state-issued ID that the new law requires.
Holder will that request a federal judge put North Carolina's new restrictions through the pre-clearance process that the Justice Department is also using to fight similar laws in Texas. The AP explains:
A handful of jurisdictions have been subjected to pre-clearance, or advance approval, of election changes through the Civil Rights Act provision it is relying on, but a court first must find that a state or local government engaged in intentional discrimination under the Constitution's 14th or 15th amendments, or the jurisdiction has to admit to discrimination. Unlike other parts of the voting law, the discriminatory effect of an action is not enough to trigger court review.
The new law cut the period for early voting by seven days; required voters to present a valid state ID in order to vote; put heavy restrictions on early and same-day voter registration; and put lighter restrictions on absentee ballots. Taken as a whole, the new rules seemed to create impacts that fall along racial and economic lines that would make it much more difficult for many black, poor citizens to vote in the next election.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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