National GOP group, watchdog offer support for N.C. voter ID
A group that works to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate and an election watchdog group are offering their support to North Carolina’s challenged voter ID law.
Meanwhile, the N.C. Republican Party hopes to restore a section of the law dealing with election observers.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, Lawyers Democracy Fund, and N.C. GOP all filed motions Monday with the N.C. Court of Appeals. They want to submit friend-of-the-court briefs in Holmes v. Moore. The case involves a legal challenge to the voter ID law approved in 2018.
A split three-judge Superior Court panel struck the law down in September 2021. The state and legislative leaders have appealed that ruling to the Appeals Court. Voter ID critics want to bypass that court and have the case head directly to the N.C. Supreme Court. The high court has not decided yet whether to take the case.
“Plaintiffs allege and have argued the North Carolina General Assembly acted in bad faith and with discriminatory intent in introducing, debating, and passing the voter ID requirement,” wrote attorney Roger Knight on behalf of the national GOP Senate group. “[We] will address the fact that General Assembly acted consistent with other state legislatures in considering and passing voter ID requirements and the General Assembly treated this legislation no differently than any legislation during the 2018 session.”
“Furthermore, [we] will present argument that there is no inference of bad faith and discriminatory intent in the General Assembly’s actions,” Knight added. “Indeed, if there is any inference of bad faith, it should be inferred to the Plaintiffs who oppose a simple security measure that is the law in more than seventy-five percent (75%) of the states. It is thus the Amicus Curiae’s position that this Court should determine that the voter identification legislation was a bipartisan effort and enacted after the people of North Carolina overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment calling for voter ID requirements.”
Lawyers Democracy Fund focuses on voter ID requirements across the country. “LDF contends that the public policy concerns motivating Photo ID legislation are concrete and substantial and that states, therefore, have strong, legitimate, and compelling interests in implementing Photo ID requirements for voting,” according to the brief from attorney Andrew Brown.”
Second, LDF contends that the operative elements of SB 824 [the voter ID law] are both wholly consistent with and often more permissive than Photo ID laws in many other states throughout the country.”
“Finally, LDF contends that the [trial court] Majority’s order contravenes basic principles of statutory construction, and, if affirmed, would set North Carolina’s jurisprudence as an extreme outlier nationally on this issue,” Brown added.
The state Republican Party’s brief focuses on a section of the ID law that has nothing to do with photo identification.
“[T]he NCGOP has the statutory right to appoint 100 statewide poll observers who serve to further the interests of the NCGOP, Republican voters, and Republican candidates by ensuring the security, fairness, and integrity of elections in the State of North Carolina,” wrote attorneys Kevin Cline and Philip Thomas. “If the Wake County Superior Court’s decision is not overturned in part, it will significantly undermine the NCGOP’s ability to exercise its statutorily granted rights and to ensure the integrity of elections in North Carolina.”
The state GOP specifically focuses on Section 3.3 of the challenged law, which says “[t]he chair of each political party in the State shall have the right to designate up to 100 additional at-large observers who are residents of the State who may attend any voting place in the State.”
“Should Section 3.3 of S.B. 824 be struck down, NCGOP loses its ability to appoint poll observers, which it considers an important part of its role in the electoral process,” according to Cline and Thomas. That portion of the voter ID law had not been challenged in court. The N.C. GOP argues the three-judge panel should have severed the challenged voter ID requirements from the rest of the law. That would have allowed the poll observer provision to stand.
Voter ID critics will submit their arguments in the case in the days ahead.