The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law on Friday, claiming that the law is evidence that the state’s Republican legislature undertook a concerted effort to disenfranchise minorities.
“We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,” the three judge panel wrote. “The court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” they stated. The panel stopped short of reimposing federal oversight on the state’s elections, saying that striking down the law was enough.
Many poorer residents and minorities in North Carolina do not have photo identification and therefore would be disenfranchised by the requirement. Many of those same North Carolina citizens would be disenfranchised by other restrictions enacted by the state in addition to the voter ID law.
During the proceedings the court said that the state itself provided them with a smoking gun which proved an intent to discriminate.
The State argued that they did away with Sunday voting after indicating that counties with such an allowance were disproportionately black and Democratic.
“Thus, in what comes as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times, the State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race — specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise,” the judges wrote in their decision.
Republican North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory blasted the decision and accused the judges of anti-GOP bias.
“Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal courtroom,” Mr. McCrory said. “Yet three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state. We will immediately appeal and also consider our other options.”
[Washington Post] [New York Times] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via Politico]