North Carolina Sued Over Discriminatory Voting Law

The U.S. Justice Department is embarking on a suit against a new restrictive voting law in North Carolina, which requires photo identification for in-person voting and cuts back on early voting and same-day registration.

The announcement of the suit comes just a month after the Justice Department began its challenge to a similar voting law in Texas, both of which have the potential to discriminate against minority, elderly and young voters. Republican legislatures in both states have been eager to change voting laws after the Supreme Court struck down a key component of the Voting Rights Act in June. 

“The Machinists Union stands against any attempt to deny, impede or restrict any American from exercising their right to vote,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “These discriminatory laws amount to a poorly-veiled attempt by the far-right to silence their opposition. In America, we listen to everyone’s voice.”

Republican legislators in North Carolina, like those in other states seeking to ramp up voting restrictions, are citing dubious claims of voter fraud as an excuse to curb rights at the polls. Between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters nationally have been indicted for voter fraud. Only 26 of those cases, or about .00000013 percent of the votes cast, resulted in convictions or guilty pleas, according to a Justice Department study. 

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has said that more than 318,000 voters in the state do not hold a qualifying ID from the NC DMV.

“In challenging this law, the Justice Department will present evidence of racially discriminatory effect resulting from these changes – based on the state’s own data,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “The evidence will also show that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted this legislation despite having evidence before it that these changes would make it harder for many minority voters to participate in the electoral process.”

North Carolina’s new voting law is scheduled to go into effect in time for the 2016 elections.