DOJ to Sue North Carolina over Voter ID Law
(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department is planning to sue the state of North Carolina over its voter ID law, a source briefed on the plans told ABC News. The move is expected to be announced Monday and comes in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision that gutted a portion of the Voting Rights Act. After that decision, North Carolina proceeded with its voter ID law.
It's the second such lawsuit in little over a month. In August, the Justice Department announced that it had filed a lawsuit against Texas over that state's voter ID law, which required voters to provide certain documents to cast a ballot.
"Today's action marks another step forward in the Justice Department's continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans," Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time. "We will not allow the Supreme Court's recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights."
The Supreme Court's decision in June meant states with a history of discrimination were no longer required to indefinitely get Justice Department approval -- or "preclearance" -- before changing their voting laws.
But the high court's ruling left other portions of the Voting Rights Act intact, and the Justice Department is now using those portions "to guard against discrimination and, where appropriate, to ask federal courts to require preclearance of new voting changes," as Holder put it.
The lawsuit being filed on Monday seeks to block North Carolina from eliminating the first seven days of early voting, eliminating same-day voter registration during the early voting period, and requiring that voters have a valid North Carolina driver's license, U.S. passport, military ID, or state-issued ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles to cast a ballot.
"North Carolina enacted these provisions with a discriminatory purpose to deny African-Americans equal access to voting," and the provisions "will have the result of denying or abridging an equal opportunity to vote for African-Americans," the source briefed on the lawsuit said.
The source cited a report by North Carolina's State Board of Elections four months ago, showing that while African-Americans comprise 22 percent of registered voters in North Carolina, they also account for 34 percent of voters who do not have an ID issued by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.
But Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the law into effect last month, has insisted the voter ID law will help ensure integrity at North Carolina ballot boxes and provide greater equality for the state's voters.
"North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a common sense law that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot," McCrory said in a statement last month. "Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID, and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote."
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