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NAACP: NC’s Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Hispanics And Teenagers

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has expanded its lawsuit against the state’s new Voter ID law to argue that it discriminates against Hispanics and to challenge its elimination of pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

The NAACP and other civil rights groups, which sued the state after Gov. Pat McCrory signed the law in August, have claimed provisions of the law that require voters to show an ID at polling stations and eliminate same-day registration are unconstitutional. The NAACP’s attorneys filed amendments to their challenge on Wednesday at U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

“This is not about voter ID,” the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, said in a conference call Thursday. “This is a monster voter suppression bill. It takes us backwards over on the things we have won in North Carolina.”

Chapel Hill Councilwoman Maria Palmer has joined the suit as a plaintiff as part of the new filings.

This is not about voter ID. This is a monster voter suppression bill. It takes us backwards over on the things we have won in North Carolina. - Rev. William Barber

The law represents a hardship for Palmer because she will have to educate some her Latino constituents on the new rules for them to vote and because the names on her social security card and driver’s license do not match, and she will incur additional time and expense to obtain identification sufficient to vote, Barber said.

Black and Hispanic 16- and 17-year-olds will be disproportionately affected by the law because it eliminates their eligibility to pre-register, said Deniese Lieberman, senior attorney for the Advancement Project, which is part of the suit. A majority of the teenagers who pre-registered for earlier elections were minorities who would typically not have gone to the transportation department to get a driver’s license or identification, she said.

A trial in the case is scheduled for July 2015. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice has said it will file for an injunction so provisions that eliminated same-day registration and shortened early voting by a week will not be in place for the mid-term elections of November 2014.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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