The attorneys representing the North Carolina General Assembly have filed a motion to dismiss a complaint filed against a law tied to the state’s recently passed Constitutional Amendment regarding Voter ID.
The people of North Carolina chose to add voter ID to their state constitution and the court should dismiss lawsuits attempting to suppress their voice in the democratic process and silence their decision to join 34 other states with voter ID. https://t.co/BDewTcyyoA #ncga #ncpol
— Speaker Tim Moore (@NCHouseSpeaker) January 22, 2019
“Voter identification proposals often get caught up in the false conclusion that an ID requirement necessarily suppresses votes, particularly for African-American citizens like myself,” Former state Senator Joel Ford said in a statement released by North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore.
Ford, who represented Mecklenburg County, was one of the primary sponsors along with Speaker Moore of the legislation at the center of the suit.
“The people of North Carolina chose to add voter ID to their state constitution and we will not allow Governor Cooper or these plaintiffs to suppress their voice in the democratic process,” Speaker Moore said.
North Carolina’s Voter ID Constitutional Amendment was voted on along with 5 other amendments in November 2018.
2,049,121 or 55.49 percent of North Carolina voters voted to pass the Voter ID amendment. 82 of North Carolina’s 100 counties voted in favor of the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment.
In December of 2018, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s filed a preliminary injunction and a complaint accusing the legislation of violating the North Carolina State Constitution in six ways.
The complaint alleges that the voter ID legislation violated the state’s constitution the areas of Equal Protection Clause, the Free Elections Clause, and the Property Qualifications Clause.
In addition, the complaint alleges the legislation violates voters “Right of Assembly and Petition and Freedom of Speech” because it impedes “voters’ ability to engage in political expression and speech by casting a ballot.”
The motion to dismiss rejects each one by stating that each claim made in the suit does not violate the North Carolina Constitution “in any respect” and that the plaintiffs have “failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
The bill being sued over is Senate Bill 824, which offers a wide range of voter ID’s accepted and is similar to other states requiring ID to vote. The bill also has exceptions where ID is not required due to specific impediments.
The bill passed with bipartisan support and was later vetoed by the state’s Democrat Governor, Roy Cooper.
In his veto message, Cooper called the bill “sinister and cynical.”
The General Assembly easily overrode Cooper’s veto in the House 72-40 and 32-12 in the Senate. Democrats in both chambers who originally voted to pass the bill turned around and voted to veto the bill.
On December 19, 2018, the same day the veto overrides were completed, the legal challenge was filed by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice on behalf of six voters in the state.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice was founded by Anita Earls, a former employee of the U.S. Justice Department under former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder.
Earls is a Democrat, who in the past has sued the North Carolina over redistricting and voter ID, is now a sitting North Carolina Supreme Court Justice after beating incumbent Barbara Jackson in 2018.
In related Voter ID news, this month North Carolina officials missed a deadline to respond to two federal subpoenas requesting massive amounts of voter data going back as far as 2010.
– – –
A.P. Dillon is the North Carolina Bureau Chief for The Tennesee Star and a reporter at Battleground State News. Follow A.P. Dillon on Twitter. Email Tips to [email protected].
Photo “North Carolina Capital Chambers” by Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC. CC BY 2.0.