JURIST – Federal appeals court strikes down portions of North Carolina voting law

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From the decision:

Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.

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[JURIST] A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Friday struck down [opinion, PDF] several provisions of North Carolina’s House Bill 589 (HB 589) [text, PDF], most notably its voter identification requirements. In its decision to annul the voter ID provision of the statute, as well as provisions eliminating early voting, pre-registration same-day registration, and out-of-precinct voting, the court stated that the legislation was “passed with racially discriminatory intent.” The panel further explained that it, unlike the lower district court, was unconvinced by the argument that the statute’s enactment was “the innocuous back-and-forth of routine partisan struggle.” Instead the panel suggested that the Republic-controlled state-legislature was motivated to enact HB 589 after an “unprecedented African American voter participation in a state with troubled racial history and racially polarized voting.” While the decision was unanimous, one justice disagreed with the decision to permanently enjoin the voter identification provision, expressing belief that the “reasonable impediment” exception provided ample protection against any potential discrimination. The decision overturns a district court decision [JURIST report] upholding HB 589 in April.

Read complete Jurist-Paper Chase analysis here.

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