A majority of a panel of North Carolina judges found the state’s voter Id law was racially discriminatory. In a 100 page opinion, two out of three judges on a panel found in favor of plaintiffs.
This isn’t the first time a North Carolina Court has struck down an iteration of voter Id law passed by the Republican-dominated legislature for those keeping count. North Carolina Republicans have been trying since 2013 to make a racist voter ID law stick.
As reported by the North Carolina NewsObserver, the 2013 law was struck down by a federal judge In 2016, citing the near “surgical precision” with which the law targeted Black voters. Republican lawmakers drafted the current law in response to a 2018 constitutional amendment that required the North Carolina General Assembly to draft accompanying legislation.
The majority opinion found the law violated the equal protection clause of the North Carolina constitution. The opinion also found that Republican lawmakers could not prove that the law would not have been enacted but for the discriminatory factor. Other findings include the measures taken were not sufficiently tailored to address virtually non-existent voter fraud.
And no, it’s not racist to assume Black voters can’t access acceptable forms of Id at the same rate as their white counterparts. NPR reported that part of the plaintiffs’ case relied in part on expert testimony that found Black voters were 39% more likely to not have required Id.
For whatever reason, the judges insisted on absolving Republican legislators of any racist intent while at the same time acknowledging the discriminatory intent in the legislation and process leading to its passage. And yet, legislators show their true colors by continuing to push for a law that has been repeatedly struck down as discriminating against Black voters.
This case is a win for voting rights and democracy advocates. Another voting rights case making its way through the courts involves restoring voting rights to over 50,000 formerly incarcerated people. An earlier court decision struck down the provision disenfranchising people who were previously incarcerated for a felony and are still on felony probation, parole, or post-release supervision.
“Although the Supreme Court’s decision to not grant our request to fully reinstate the total rights restoration injunction was disappointing, we are pleased that all people with felony convictions on community supervision who registered to vote from August 23 to September 3 must be considered eligible voters and will be able to vote legally— and we encourage them to exercise their voice in the upcoming elections,” read a statement. “We are now a step closer to our goal, and even in the face of this temporary delay of full justice, we are celebrating. We remain committed to the vision of an equal democracy, untainted by-laws illegally designed to disenfranchise Black people in this state.”
The state Supreme Court declined to extend voting rights to all disenfranchised while the court considered its final decision.
“What we are seeking is not a matter of victory on the left or right, but a moral and constitutional challenge that must be faced: the future of our democracy depends on all voices being accounted for and included,” continued the statement.