Common Cause Urges Holder to Challenge North Carolina Voter Restrictions

Attorney General Eric Holder should seek a court order overturning North Carolina’s discriminatory new voting laws and requiring that future changes in the Tar Heel State’s election statutes be cleared in advance by the Justice Department, Common Cause said Tuesday.

“The attorney general’s strong response to a new Texas law imposing discriminatory Voter ID requirements has put states on notice that the administration intends to continue enforcing the Voting Rights Act,” said Arn Pearson, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation. “Mr. Holder needs to back up those words with action in North Carolina as well.”

North Carolina lawmakers approved a bill last week reducing early voting days, eliminating Election Day voter registration, repealing a program that allowed high school students to register before they turn 18, and dramatically restricting the types of voter identification that officials will accept at the polls.

“It’s clear that this legislation was written to make it more difficult for tens of thousands of North Carolinians to exercise their right to vote. It will disproportionately impact minority voters and students, as well the elderly and those with disabilities who may not be able to obtain the kinds of ID it requires or get to a polling place on one of the designated early voting days,” Pearson said.

“These are exactly the kinds of maneuvers the Voting Rights Act is designed to prevent,” Pearson said. “Until the Supreme Court’s ruling in June in Shelby County v. Holder, the Justice Department had authority to block them through a process called pre-clearance. The Texas and North Carolina laws that have emerged since that decision demonstrate why pre-clearance is so important and why the department should go into court now to restore it.”