Last summer, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law the strictest voting law in the country. It requires voters to present a limited range of government-issued photo IDs (student IDs aren’t allowed); cuts early voting; ends same-day voter registration; scraps the pre-registration program; bans paid voter registration drives; and makes it easier to challenge a voter’s eligibility, among other measures.
“They are doing everything they can to try to keep us from finding out what they did and how they did it and who was involved,” Rev. William Barber II, the president of the state’s NAACP chapter, which is challenging the law, told reporters Thursday. “It’s time for what was done in the dark to come into the light.”
North Carolina is asking a federal judge to keep secret Republican state lawmakers’ communications as they pushed through the nation’s most restrictive voting law last summer.
Civil rights groups in their August filings, argued that the voter ID provision, the early-voting cutbacks, and the end to same-day registration violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in voting, and the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
The Brennan Center For Justice shows that non-whites are more likely than whites to lack ID, and to take advantage of early voting and same-day registration.
Barber’s NAACP and the Advancement Project, wants access to the lawmakers’ emails and other internal communications in order to strengthen the case that the law’s Republican sponsors knowingly discriminated against racial minorities. However, the state argued late last week that the communications are protected by legislative privilege.
In October, Don Yelton, a Republican precinct chair, resigned after saying that it would be OK if the law keeps “lazy blacks” from voting.
In new filings, the civil rights groups charge that the law discriminates against Latinos, not just African-Americans. And they challenge a provision of the law that scrapped a popular program allowing 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote, arguing that the move is racially discriminatory because non-whites benefited from the program more than whites.
The voting law is one component of an across-the-board rightward shift initiated by North Carolina Republicans after they took complete control of the state this year for the first time since Reconstruction.