The Department of Justice is suing the state of North Carolina for alleged discrimination in its recently-passed voter ID law, the Associated Press reports.
In August, the state passed a restrictive voter ID bill that was described as potentially the worst of the nation’s recently-approved voter suppression bills. The law requires voters to have government-issued photo identification, shortens the voting period from 17 to 10 days, and completely eliminates pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by Election Day.
After the Supreme Court effectively dissolved the Voting Rights Act in June, several states have passed restrictive voter ID laws. In August, the Justice Department sued the state of Texas to block the state from enforcing its voter ID law, and is currently getting involved in a lawsuit against the state by civil rights groups challenging new redistricting laws.
Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the lawsuit at a press conference on Monday, where he will be joined by Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, and three US attorneys from North Carolina, according to an anonymous source.
The Justice Department will challenge requirements in North Carolina’s law that eliminate the first seven days of early voting and same-day voter registration during the early voting period, according to the AP. The government will also challenge the provision that requires government-issued photo identification.
Last month, Attorney General Holder said, “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.” According to the AP:
“The Justice Department will ask a federal judge to place the four provisions in North Carolina’s new law under federal scrutiny for an indeterminate period – a process known as pre-clearance… A handful of jurisdictions have been subjected to pre-clearance, or advance approval, of election changes through the Civil Rights Act provision it is relying on, but a court first must find that a state or local government engaged in intentional discrimination under the Constitution’s 14th or 15th amendments, or the jurisdiction has to admit to discrimination. Unlike other parts of the voting law, the discriminatory effect of an action is not enough to trigger court review.”
After North Carolina passed its restrictive voter ID law, state Senator Ellie Kinnaird (D) resigned after 17 years of service, stating that she would devote her retirement to grassroots efforts to fight Republican initiatives like voter suppression. Congressional candidate Jason Thigpen (R) called the North Carolina law “discriminatory” and “a turd.”
“You have those that honestly believe our country would be better off turning back the clock to years ago, also known as the ‘good-old-days,’ which weren’t all that good for everyone,” he said. “After suppressing the right to vote, what’s next? Are these so-called Representatives going to push for preventing our military, veterans, and women from voting?… These policies are archaic and in no way reflect the values of the people in the great State of North Carolina.”