Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Monday challenging a new North Carolina voter ID law in one of the first tests of the legality of new voting restrictions being implemented after the Supreme Court struck down parts of the 1965 Civil Rights Act in June.
The Advancement Project and North Carolina NAACP, who filed the suit, charge that the law's voter requirements will make it harder to vote and that racial minorities will be disproportionately impacted because they are less likely to possess required forms of identification. The lawsuit also argues voter fraud is not a significant problem in North Carolina.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory defended his signing of the law as common sense way to guard the integrity of North Carolina’s election process, insisting that the law is needed to ensure “no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot.” In a statement, McCrory also noted that voters won’t be required to present photo identification until the 2016 elections.
Among the nearly seven million primary and general election votes cast in North Carolina in 2012, 121 cases of alleged voter fraud were reported by the State Board of Elections to district attorneys, according to WNCN.
Voter ID laws have proven popular in opinion polls. A Washington Post poll one year ago found nearly three quarters of Americans believe voters should be required to show government-issued photo ID on Election Day. The poll also showed, however, that nearly as many people expressed concern about voter suppression as about voter fraud. A June Washington Post-ABC News poll found 51 percent disapproved of the Supreme Court's decision striking down part of the law overseeing voting rights for minorities.
Several states may see stricter voter identification laws implemented by the 2014 midterm elections. The June Supreme Court decision removed special scrutiny of voting laws in nine states and a number of jurisdictions with a history of discrimination. In addition to North Carolina's law, five others states directly affected by the Supreme Court ruling have passed laws requiring additional voter identification, according to a tally by the National Conference on State Legislatures.
Here's a rundown on where the laws stand in each state where federal pre-approval of voting laws is no longer required.
States enacting or implementing new restrictions
Alabama: A photo identification requirement law will go into effect in 2014. A 2013 proposal will allow voters without an ID to vote if two election officials identify the person as an eligible voter and sign an affidavit.
Texas: A strict voter ID law passed in 2011 is headed toward implementation after it was blocked by a federal court in 2012. Attorney General Eric Holder said in July he will ask a court to require Texas to receive pre-clearance from the Justice Department for voting laws because of a history of discrimination.
Mississippi: A 2011 constitutional amendment will go into effect requiring government-issued photo identification thanks to the Supreme Court ruling.
Virginia: A newly enacted law in March requiring photo identification to cast ballots is scheduled to take effect for the 2014 elections.
South Carolina: No new laws in 2013, but a strict photo identification requirement passed in 2011 will go into effect because of the Supreme Court's ruling. Previously, the state had a less strict non-photo ID requirement.
North Carolina: A wide-ranging voter ID law was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Monday requiring voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls. Before the Supreme Court ruling, 40 counties in North Carolina were required to obtain federal approval before changing voting election laws.
States without new restrictions pending
Alaska: A proposal to add photo identification restrictions failed to pass. Current law requires non-photo ID, but this can be waived in an election official personally knows the voter.
Arizona: An Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship to vote was struck down by the Supreme Court in June. Current law requires non-photo identification.
Georgia: Georgia already has a strict photo identification requirement in place, with no new proposals in 2013.
Louisiana: No new proposals in 2013. Louisiana's photo identification requirement was already in effect, which allows voters without identification to sign an affidavit confirming their identification before election commissioners.
Florida: No changes this year. Five Florida counties had been required to obtain federal approval for changes to state voting laws, and the state already has a photo ID requirement law on the books, but allows those without identification to submit a provisional ballot with a signature.
New York and California: No changes in 2013. A few counties in each state were required to seek federal clearance for voting law changes, but neither currently requires identification for voters.
South Dakota: No new laws. Before the Supreme Court's ruling, two counties in South Dakota were required to seek federal approval for voting law changes. The state currently requires a photo ID or for voters to complete an affidavit confirming one's identity.
The fate of new restrictions in North Carolina and elsewhere is unclear. In July, Attorney General Eric Holder promised fresh legal action in a string of voting rights cases across the country in an attempt to blunt the effect of the Supreme Court's ruling. But Congress has not made a top priority of divining a new formula to identify certain states for scrutiny, limiting the likelihood any states will face automatic reviews of voting laws in the near future.
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