News: Quick Takes

Voter ID appeal headed to Supreme Court

4th Circuit refuses to put hold on its rejection of state's election reforms

CJ file photo
CJ file photo

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused on Thursday to put a hold on its order striking down North Carolina’s voter ID law and related election reforms while the opinion is on appeal. State Republican leaders have appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse reacted strongly to Thursday’s order.

“This is a partisan Democrat ruling engineered by partisan Democrats like [Attorney General] Roy Cooper,” Woodhouse said. “Roy Cooper and the Democrats have done all the can for several years to make sure we don’t have secure, fair and sound voting.” Cooper is running for governor against incumbent Republican Pat McCrory.

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Patsy Keever hailed the action.

“It’s a win for democracy any time we can make registering and voting easier, especially when it involves striking down a discriminatory law,” Keever said.

The three Court of Appeals judges were appointed by Democratic presidents. The appeals court’s ruling also struck down other provisions of the law, including the elimination of same-day registration during early voting, shortening the early voting period, allowing out-of-precinct voting, and eliminating an early registration program for 16- and 17-year-olds.

“The court sat there and accused Republicans of acting discriminatorily on purpose, but could find no discriminatory results, none,” Woodhouse said, adding that voting, registration, and use of early voting by blacks were up since the law took effect.

“We’re extremely concerned about same-day registration,” Woodhouse said. “We think that is where the real fraud is. There is a much higher reject[ion] rate for these registrations that are done on the same day. By the time they are rejected, there is nothing you can do about the illegal vote.”

However, Keever said the action helps preserve the voice of many North Carolinians.

“For many working-class families, and for racial minorities — the very people targeted by laws that restrict ballot access — their vote is the most powerful aspect of their voice,” Keever said. “We’re glad to know that so many more people will be able to speak up on Nov. 8 and demand better leadership for North Carolina.”

The order said that putting a stay — or a hold — on the ruling would confuse voters further, adding that the judges have been assured that North Carolina elections officials are capable of implementing their ruling in time for the Nov. 8 election.

“Moreover, recalling or staying the mandate now would only undermine the integrity and efficiency of the upcoming election,” the order said. “Voters disenfranchised by a law enacted with discriminatory intent suffer irreparable harm far greater than any potential harm to the state.”