RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond has overturned parts of a recently enacted election law that requires North Carolina voters to present valid identification, such as a driver’s license, in order to cast a ballot.
The ruling states that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent, citing statistics that African-American voters were disenfranchised by the law, being more likely to lack the proper identification required by the law. Further, the law would reduce votes for Democratic candidates, which African-Americans are statistically more likely to vote for.
The “smoking gun,” in the court’s opinion, came from the state’s justification that the statute hinged on race, and that “African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise.”
“Faced with this record, we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the majority of the court.
“This ruling is a stinging rebuke of the state’s attempt to undermine African-American voter participation, which had surged over the last decade,” Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project stated in a press release. “It is a major victory for North Carolina voters and for voting rights.”
Governor Pat McCrory issued the following response:
“Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal court room. Yet, three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal and also review other potential options.”
According to WGHP, a federal judge dismissed lawsuits challenging the law in April, but the ruling was appealed.
The law, passed in 2013, also reduced early voting by seven days and ended same-day registration during early voting periods. It went into full effect this year and was utilized during the state primary elections on March 15.