Governor Will Fight DOJ Lawsuit Against Voter ID Law
On the last day of September, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina.
At issue is the state's new elections law, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory earlier this year. The law cuts a week from the period for early voting, ends same-day voter registration, and includes a requirement that voters take a government-issued photo ID when they go to the polls.
Holder claims the law intentionally discriminates against African-Americans, and that by passing the law, the Republican-controlled legislature "... took aggressive steps to curtail the voting rights of African Americans. This is an intentional attempt to break a system that was working." And he had a warning for other state lawmakers who may be considering similar legislation: "I and my colleagues at every level of the Justice Department will never hesitate to do all that we must to protect the Constitutionally-guaranteed civil rights of all Americans. I call upon state leaders across the country to pause before they enact measures similar to those at issue in this case. I ask them to think about their solemn duty as lawmakers."
The North Carolina State Board of Elections and the Board’s Executive Director are also defendants in the DOJ suit, which was filed in Federal District Court in Greensboro.
To read the complete text of US Attorney General Eric Holder's statement, click here.
For his part, Governor Pat McCrory said in a statement, "Protecting the integrity of every vote is one of the most important duties I have as governor." A video is posted on the governor's website showing President Barack Obama handing over a photo ID to poll workers in Chicago before voting in 2012. In reference to that, McCrory said, "I believe if showing a voter ID is good enough and fair enough for our own president in Illinois, then it's good enough for the people of North Carolina."
Governor McCrory also posted a video on YouTube, explaining his position and calling the lawsuit a "meritless federal overreach."
To view Governor McCrory's YouTube video, click here.
To listen to the audio (.mp3) version of the governor's statement, click on the player below.
North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) issued a joint statement in response to the lawsuit:
“The Obama Justice Department’s baseless claims about North Carolina’s election reform law are nothing more than an obvious attempt to quash the will of the voters and hinder a hugely popular voter ID requirement. The law was designed to improve consistency, clarity and uniformity at the polls and it brings North Carolina’s election system in line with a majority of other states. We are confident it protects the right of all voters, as required by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.”
Although North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has, on several occasions, expressed his opposition to the voter ID law, and urged Governor McCrory to repeal it, Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for Cooper, told the Associated Press that the Attorney General's office intends to represent the state in this litigation. "In our state the attorney general's office has the primary duty to defend the state whenever it gets sued," she said, "That's our duty, and that's what we plan to do." Cooper is a Democrat who was elected the state's Attorney General in 2000, and was elected to a fourth term in 2012.