DOJ Sues North Carolina Over New Voter ID Laws

Yesterday, the United States Department of Justice filed suit against the State of North Carolina to contest the passage of the most restrictive voter id laws in country. Prior to the Republican led legislature gaining control, North Carolina was a leader in the country for voter participation which many believe is no longer the case. North Carolina was the only battleground state during the 2012 Presidential Election season to veto and not institute voter id laws.

This suit comes on the heels of a similar suit filed against Texas in its efforts to implement strict voter id laws in the Lone Star State. To counterbalance the law, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) located in Durham North Carolina, is in the process of urging potential voters to register prior to the October 11, 2013 deadline.  In the wake of the new law, same day registration was eliminated. SCSJ is requesting support in their effort to help create awareness and knowledge of the deadline in order to register as many people as possible. If you are interested in helping spread the message of the voter registration deadline, visit SCSJ’s messaging link.

According to MSNBC News:

The law is perhaps the nation’s strictest. In addition to requiring voters to show a limited range of state-issued IDs, it also cuts back on early voting and ends same-day voter registration, among other provisions. All of those provisions disproportionately affect racial minorities, studies show. Rick Hasen, a law professor at UC Irvine and a prominent expert on voting, has called the law “a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote.”

Holder called the cutbacks to early voting “especially troubling,” noting that in the last two presidential elections, 70% of minority voters took advantage of early voting.

The measure was pushed by Republican lawmakers who control the state’s legislature, and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. An August poll found that just 39% of North Carolinians support their state’s law, with 50% opposed. Along with a slew of other conservative measures enacted by the Republican government, it helped spark an energetic progressive opposition movement that since the summer has held demonstrations across the state.

Leaders of the movement, including Rev. William Barber III, the president of the state’s NAACP chapter, applauded the lawsuit Monday, as did North Carolina Democrats. Read Full Article

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Rev. Barber is the leader of the Moral Monday protest and the ongoing fight to protect civil rights and the quality of life for North Carolinians. If you are interested in his reaction to the suit brought by the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, view the video below:

ID’s for All: A New Greensboro North Carolina Initiative

Amanda Huber MSW, Staff Writer

Faith Action International House has been building bridges in Greensboro, North Carolina for over 15 years ago by diversity and faith leaders. Faith Action employs immigrants and works for the immigrant population through interfaith and intercultural means. Immigrants from all over the world have made Greensboro their home and over 100 languages can be found in the Greensboro community. This is a result of Greensboro’s long history of refugee resettlement. Why is this important?

Greensboro is cultivating a community of immigrants through a collaboration of efforts by Faith Action International House, The Greensboro Police Department, and other religious groups in the community.  A non-citizen ID is being created to assist undocumented people who require identification to receive a  photo identification card. It is important to note that this ID is only valid within Greensboro, and it does not provide the same protections as a driver’s license. However,  it is apart of the process to cultivate relationships with immigrant populations.

The ID with Faith Action works in the following way. It is valid with the Greensboro Police Department and it allows people with the ID to not feel afraid of being taken into custody because of their lack of a photo ID, and it allows the police to feel confident that the person is who they say they are. The ID will not protect against ticketing, but it will protect against being held in police custody which may result in a call to Immigration and Custom Enforcement. The city police department is on board, and Faith Action hopes to get other institutions on board with this new initiative.

Why Else Would Anyone Want an ID?

photo credit: Victor L Antunez via photopin cc
photo credit: Victor L Antunez via photopin cc

American culture is focused on verifying who a person is. Being a part of the mainstream American culture requires identification. Picking up prescription drugs for the first time requires an ID, going to the library and getting a library card requires an ID, and hospitals prefer an ID to be on file.  Employers want to know who you are, although now this issue has been dealt with by utilizing the E-Verify program. Banks have their own rules about cashing checks which require some sort of identification.

When Can I get an ID?

Obtaining this ID is simple. It costs $10, and all you do is sit through an orientation where the details are explained. On ID day you bring your paperwork, a bill verifying your address, and a picture from a passport, school ID, work permit, or anything that confirms your face matches your name.

The next massive Faith Action ID day is in August.

Visit Faith Action’s Homepage for more information about the next mass orientation and ID day or go to their facebook page for updates.


North Carolina Voter ID Bill in the National Spotlight

By Shoshannah Sayers, Deputy Director

The North Carolina General Assemby recently passed a new set of voting rules that will disenfranchise an estimated 319,000 North Carolina voters, 30% of whom are African American. North Carolina voter id bill is gaining national attention because it will be the most restrictive voter id laws passed by any state in the country. SCSJ will fight to the end to ensure that every eligible voter is able to exercise their fundamental right. Here is the story of just one of the voters who effectively lost their right to vote thanks to the new Voter ID bill.

Alberta Currie is the Great-Granddaughter of slaves. Mrs. Currie, her parents, and her children all worked picking cotton and tobacco in the fields of Robeson County NC. She is the mother of seven, 78 years old, and does not have a birth certificate because she was born at home. She has voted consistently since she first became eligible to vote in 1956. She does not have a photo ID and cannot obtain one in North Carolina without a birth certificate.

When Mrs. Currie first went to vote in 1956, election officials made black voters wait until whites had voted while keeping them standing at the back of the line. In 2012, she and her daughters stood in line to be the first ones to vote on the date that early voting opened. When it was her turn, local election officials told her that she better not come back to vote unless she gets a picture id. She and her family consider it a matter of personal dignity to be able to go in person and vote. It is one thing that lets them say to the world that they are equal to everyone else.

Her is an excerpt of Alberta’s interview with CBS News;

Long Time NC Voter Alberta Currie
Long Time NC Voter Alberta Currie

But the North Carolina bill, entitled the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA), goes much further. It rolls back the increasingly popular early voting period from 17 days to 10 days, even though 61 percent of ballots in 2012 were cast before election day. The bill outlaws early voting on Sunday, which is particularly popular with predominantly black churches bussing “souls to the polls.”

In 2012 in North Carolina, Democrats cast 47 percent of the early votes, and Republicans cast 32 percent, according to a CBS News analysis.

The North Carolina bill repeals same-day registration, which allowed 100,000 North Carolinians to register and vote early in one stop in 2008 and again in 2012. In last year’s general election, about 1,300 of those same day registrants, or one-and-a-half percent, could not be verified after the votes were counted, according to the State Board of Elections. Read Full Article

On July 25, 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed harsh new rules that will prevent hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians like Alberta from voting.

Here are some of the ways the new law will affect all NC voters:

  1. The early voting period will be shortened by a week, from 17 days to 10.
  2. Same-day registration during the early voting period will be eliminated.
  3. Straight-party ticket voting will be eliminated.
  4. Sixteen and seventeen year olds will no longer be able to pre-register to vote.
  5. College IDs – even from state universities – will not be acceptable forms of identification to vote.
  6. Out of precinct voting will no longer be allowed.
  7. Counties will no longer be able to extend voting hours due to long lines or other extraordinary circumstances.
  8. Political party chairpersons will be allowed to appoint up to 12 poll “observers” to monitor the polling places and to challenge voters they suspect of voter fraud.
  9. New restrictions make it much more difficult to set up satellite polling stations, which will make it more difficult for elderly and disabled North Carolinians to vote.

What you can do:

  • Educate yourself and your community about this bill – what it means and what it doesn’t mean. The requirement to have a state-issued photo ID to vote doesn’t go into effect until 2016 – that’s four years away. Make sure everyone knows that they can still vote without photo ID until that time.
  • Stay informed about the law. Great resources for updated information include Democracy North Carolina and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice
  • Help people get the ID they need – if you know someone in NC who doesn’t have access to state-issued photo ID, encourage them to call the Southern Coalition for Social Justice at 919-323-3380 x 152 so we can help them get the documentation they need to vote.
  • Make a donation to help overturn the voter suppression legislation. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is filing lawsuits in state and federal court to stop this law from taking effect. Limiting early voting, eliminating same-day registration, requiring state-issued photo ID, and other provisions of the bill will directly affect too many voters, and bring no measurable benefit to NC elections. Please help us fight for every North Carolinian’s right to vote. Your donation makes it possible for us to provide the best legal assistance to every individual affected by the new Voter ID law. With your help, we can make North Carolina a state where every eligible voter can exercise the franchise. Click here to learn more or donate.

On July 29, 2013 SCSJ staff attorney Allison Riggs appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show to discuss these issues. Below is Allison’s interview with guest host Melissa Harris Perry.

Discrimination in North Carolina

Discrimination is reeking its ugly head in North Carolina again. Voter restrictions laws, a topic of much debate, could make it difficult for approximately 600,000 eligible voters to participate in our democracy and vote. Currently, thirty states have implemented voter discrimination ID laws that prevent citizens from voting, and even more states are considering to do the same. This includes a staggering 20 million or more Americans that do not have government-issued photo ID. How this is discrimination?  A disproportionate number vulnerable Americans which include low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, disabled and the elderly.

Current legislation, Voter Protection Integrity/Every Vote Counts SB 235/HB 253, is in place to protect voters, and it has the supported of the National Association of Social Workers. This bill ensures that all legally registered voters who go to the polls has the right to vote and cannot be denied this right because of these discriminatory photo ID requirements. Unfortunately this bill has not yet been assigned to a committee.

Most of the GOP is in support of voter ID requirements, calming that it protects against voter fraud however, not all members of the General Assembly see eye to eye in this matter. State Rep. Kelly Alexander Jr., a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, stated in an article from the Washington Post:

The ID requirement would discourage students, the poor, older adults and minorities from voting because they are more likely to not have an ID card.  We cannot afford to disenfranchise more than 600,000 voters for not having proper identification. Voting is more than just a privilege, it is a constitutional right.”

And, voices from the community came out in uproar where citizens from all over the state, including 91 year old Rosanell Eaton, who came to speak out at the public hearing on March 12th in opposition to the implementation of the voter ID.

This law is a form of discrimination and oppression which would have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations in our society. This includes low-income citizens, minority voters, students, senior citizens, voters with disabilities and others who do not have a government-issued ID.  State laws are suppose to expand the rights given by the federal government instead of  restricting them. They should help more people have the access to vote and not restrict the ability of the underprivileged even more.

Contact your legislators and tell them you support Voter Protection Integrity/Every Vote Counts,SB 235/HB 253. We do not want to return to Jim Crow South where discrimination is protected by laws!

View the voter ID Law Summary:
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***Update View Archived Chat***#SWUnited Live Twitter Chat-Voter ID Laws and Implications 11/5/12 8PM EST


View archived discussion on Voter ID laws and implications at SWHelpercom-chat-on-2012-11-12.

Join us for a Live Twitter Chat on Voter ID laws and Implications with guest Johanna Fields, MSW Candidate and NASW-NC Intern, on Presidential Election Eve. Johanna wrote an article in the NASW-NC Blog  identifying the issues on both sides of the Voter ID Laws Debate. @SWHelpercom will be the moderator using the hashtag #SWUnited. NASW-NC stands for the National Association of Social Workers-North Carolina State Chapter.

Johanna  is in her last year of the MSW program at VCU in Richmond, VA. She has direct practice experience by working with children through group home and intensive in-home settings and with adults with Developmental Disabilities through in home services. She has focused her education on Macro Social Work and has experience working with the general assembly in VA, volunteering on a Presidential political campaign, and through her current internship where she is gaining a wide variety of macro experience. Her career goals are in the macro arena, but specifically in policy analysis. You can visit her Twitter at @wilwarin712 and/or Linkedin johannafield) for more details.

Here is an excerpt of her article:

The requirement of showing photo identification when voting has become a major point of contention, not only in our state, but across the nation. Last legislative session, North Carolina passed a bill requiring all voters to show photo identification in order to vote. Governor Bev Purdue, however, vetoed it before it became law and legislators were not able to reverse this veto. This is still an important issue as it may return in the 2013 legislative session. It is an issue that divides us along party lines with amazingly few exceptions. The passion from both sides is palpable (and understandable), but perhaps we can set aside the mud-slinging for now and look at this issue through a bi-partisan lens.

While voter integrity and involvement are important and valid issues, there is little concrete evidence of fraud in the current system. This issue is likened to speeding, however, in that a tiny fraction of those who engage in this illegal activity are actually caught. Requiring photo ID is just a piece of the puzzle, as it only stops one form of potential fraud and there are contradictory arguments as to how easy impersonating someone at the polls really is. On the other hand, this law would keep over 460,000 North Carolinians from being able to vote (and those are just the ones who are already registered and have been active in exercising this right in the past) (source: Democracy NC ). This data shows that the law would disproportionately affect minorities and those aged 65 and older.

Read More


What It’s Like Living in a Battleground State

In person Early Voting officially started on October 18th here in the Tarheel State also known as North Carolina. Yesterday, I had the privilege of going to exercise my civic duty by casting my ballot. For those who like sporting the “I Voted” sticker like I do, you will notice that this year they are about three times as big as the usual size. Not only will people know you voted, but you instantly become a walking “Get Out The Vote” advertisement. Also, I had to stand in line and wait before I could summon the powers of my voting rights. I get excited to vote because it is the one moment in time where nobody is more important than me. I live in a battleground state, and my vote really really counts.

Apparently, other people are feeling the same way because it appears that folks are coming out to vote with a vengeance. Normally during the early voting period, you go early to avoid the long lines. However, this year seems different from in the past. The atmosphere relayed that North Carolinians are proud to be one of the only two States that actually vetoed Voter ID Laws out of the 12 Battleground States.

Living in a battleground state, you are courted with flowers and candy all year long by the candidates. It seems like the President, First Lady, or the Vice President is here every other week notwithstanding the visits by the Challenger and his camp. Also, this year seemed extra special to North Carolinians because we hosted the Democratic National Convention despite serving as a Model Right to Work State eager to rid the world of unions and worker’s rights. Many on the message boards called us a backward State, but we are proud to say that at least we are much more progressive than South Carolina.

The downside is the bombardment of political ads. Satellite and cable tv at least gives you an option to escape the television ads. However, the internet and Youtube is fair game. You can’t look at anything on the internet without seeing a political ad. As of yesterday, North Carolina has been awarded to Mitt Romney’s win column according to the political Oracle.  However, Public Policy Polling (PPP) located here in the Triangle Area is calling it a dead tie which basically means the climate is so polarized nobody really knows whether North Carolina will be blue or red. Racial tension is high and party lines are pretty much divided between white men and everybody else. However, I predict that when people enter that voting booth, although they may not admit it, they will be voting for President Obama because they know what is at stake.

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