RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has overturned a 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 black 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 black voters 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.”
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.
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) issued the following joint statement Friday in response to the ruling:
“Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election. We will obviously be appealing this politically-motivated decision to the Supreme Court.”
A spokesman for Roy Cooper said Cooper urged the governor to veto the legislation before he signed it because he knew it would be bad for North Carolina.