Obama Administration to Sue North Carolina on Voting Rules

Monday, 30 Sep 2013 06:03 AM

 

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The Obama administration plans to sue North Carolina on Monday to block newly enacted voting rules that it believes violates federal civil rights law, a person briefed on the U.S. Justice Department's plan said on Sunday.

The challenge would be the second of its kind in three months aimed at voting changes in a Republican-led state. In July, the Justice Department said it would sue Texas. The department's civil rights enforcers are acting after the U.S. Supreme Court in June invalidated part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act they previously relied on.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to discuss the suit at a news conference in Washington with North Carolina-based Justice Department lawyers.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the state's sweeping voting changes into law in August, saying: "Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID, and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote."

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Is About to Strike Are You Prepared?

Civil rights groups sued immediately, and U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat, asked Holder to review the law.

The person briefed on the Justice Department's plan told Reuters about it on condition that the news not be made public until midnight EDT/0400 GMT on Monday.

The suit would ask a federal court to block four provisions of the state law, the source said: the elimination of seven days of early voting prior to Election Day; the elimination of same-day voter registration during early voting; the prohibition on counting certain provisional ballots, which a voter fills out when there are questions about his or her registration; and the adoption of an ID requirement that is more strict than the Justice Department allows.

Democrats and Republicans fight vigorously over such requirements because they affect voter turnout and may swing close elections. For civil rights advocates, they also echo the earlier, century-long fight to win voting rights for black Americans in the South.

Requirements for voters to show identification have been the biggest flashpoint. The Justice Department has approved of them in some states, such as Virginia, that take steps to ensure IDs are available at little to no cost, but not in states where it said the mandate would be a burden on the poor and minorities. Holder has compared them to poll taxes.

The challenge to North Carolina would fall under the Voting Rights Act's Section 2, which prohibits state voting practices or procedures that discriminate by race.

The Justice Department also plans to ask a federal court to place North Carolina under a preclearance requirement, in which any voting change would require federal approval before taking effect, the source said. Much of North Carolina had a preclearance requirement before the Supreme Court's ruling in June.

Holder has called the Supreme Court's ruling deeply flawed, and in a speech on Sept. 20 said the Justice Department "will not allow the court's action to be interpreted as 'open season' for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights."

Republicans argue that the measures prevent voter fraud.

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Is About to Strike Are You Prepared?


© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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