Voter ID

Flickr user Jeffrey Cohen

More North Carolina voters cast their ballots early this year than did in the last mid-term elections, according to State Board of Elections figures released Sunday. A new election law limited the number of early voting days but increased the total hours.

Roughly 1.1 million people voted by mail or in person at polling stations by the end of early voting on Saturday, up 20 percent from 961,000 in 2010, the board of elections said.

Here are three possible causes for the increased turn-out:
 

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

A federal appeals court has suspended parts of North Carolina’s new voting law, saying it may disproportionately affect black voters. State lawmakers are already asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

The ruling will allow voters to register on the same day they cast a ballot during early voting, and to vote outside of their assigned precinct.

Early Voting
Leoneda Inge

A  federal appeals Court in Charlotte heard arguments Thursday on whether or not changes to North Carolina's voting law can go into effect before the November election. The changes were passed by the Republican-led General Assembly last year. Critics argue the laws restrict access to voting, particularly among minority groups.

The North Carolina NAACP has argued the changes are a violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, and of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Screen shot: Senator Phil Berger 'Protect Voter ID'
Sen. Phil Berger

The North Carolina NAACP is calling on state Senate Leader Phil Berger to stop broadcasting an ad about a new voting law. The civil rights organization says the ad is misleading and could keep some from voting.

It's a political campaign spot airing on TV stations in the Triad. And it gives Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) credit for a 2013 law that changed many rules about voting in North Carolina.

"Now," the narrator says, "thanks to Phil Berger, voters must show a valid ID to vote."

voting sign
Flickr creative commons

Appalachian State University will not have a early voting site on campus for this year's general election. 

The state Board of Elections denied a request from Watauga County Board of Elections member Kathleen Campbell, who submitted a separate early voting plan from the two other members. 

North Carolina's voter ID law has come under fire in the courts, challenged by lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice, the NAACP and voting rights groups. A judge will decide whether parts of the law should be implemented or delayed. Jeff Tiberii of WUNC has been following the hearing, and he wraps up recent developments and possible outcomes.

Photo: Rev. William Barber (center) is the lead organizer of the Moral Monday movement.
Jorge Valencia

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the Legislative Building Monday afternoon. It was the beginning of what they say is a second year of rallies in response to laws passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature.

Like many of last year’s Moral Monday rallies, this one started like a party. But it wasn’t exactly a celebration. People protested new laws affecting education, Medicaid and voting.

voting pins and buttons
YardsaleDan on Flickr

Lawsuits challenging North Carolina's Voter ID law are moving forward in court. The US Department of Justice, the North Carolina NAACP and the League of Women voters are among the groups suing the state over a law passed by the General Assembly last year.

The law does the following:

Thousands marched to the North Carolina State Capitol building on Saturday.
James Willamor via Flickr

Organizers of Saturday’s moral march on Raleigh plan to use the event’s momentum to mobilize voters, they say. The event follows last year’s weekly Moral Monday rallies that criticized laws passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led government.  The new focus is on the fall elections.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

Thousands of people are expected to march in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, some coming in buses from other states, to call on North Carolina legislators to reverse laws they’ve signed over the last year including requiring voters to show IDs in polling stations, reducing unemployment benefits and blocking Medicaid expansion.

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has expanded its lawsuit against the state’s new Voter ID law to argue that it discriminates against Hispanics and to challenge its elimination of pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

A federal judge has ruled that challenges to the North Carolina law that requires voters to show identification at polling stations will not be heard until after the mid-term elections of 2014.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake said in a a hearing Thursday that the law was too complex to be thoroughly reviewed prior to the November elections. Peake scheduled a trial for July 2015.

Attorneys on both sides of four lawsuits challenging voting rules signed into law by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory this year are scheduled to meet in U.S. District Court on Thursday morning to argue over an opening date for the trial.

The two sides disagree on whether a trial should be heard before the 2014 mid-term elections. The plaintiffs, which include the North Carolina NAACP and the League of Women Voters, are asking the court to schedule for trial in August 2014. The attorneys representing the state are asking for a begin date no earlier than January 2015.

Image of NC General Assembly where lawmakers are considering two controversial bills.
Credit NC General Assembly

The election this week was the last in North Carolina before some provisions of a voter ID law go into effect.

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state over its new law, asserting that it may have a chilling effect. Proponents of the law say it is necessary for an even playing field.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said the problem with the law isn't just the provision requiring an ID to vote,

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory has again defended North Carolina's new voting law during a talk at a leading conservative think tank. 

McCrory spoke at an event Monday hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington.  He stood behind the state's new voting rules, which require a photo ID at the polls, pointing out that 32 other states have similar laws.  He also criticized attorney general Roy Cooper for speaking out against the law.

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory has criticized the federal Justice Department's lawsuit alleging racial discrimination over new voting rules as a government overreach.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder criticized the law signed by McCrory in August, saying changes such as restrictions on certain types of ID and fewer early-voting hours would reduce participation rather than expand it. 

NAACP William Barber
Leoneda Inge

The state NAACP has started airing radio ads across North Carolina to educate voters on the new law.  The radio ad features the booming voice of Reverend William Barber – state NAACP president.

“Election day is one time we are all equal, whether you are young or old, rich or poor.  When we vote we all have the same say, that is unless you live in North Carolina," said Barber in this ad.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

As the legislative wheels turn, the Voter Identification Verification Act was introduced, debated, and passed at light speed. It was late July - the last week of the General Assembly’s session - when Republican leaders introduced the sweeping voting changes.

Local County Board of Elections meetings are usually quiet, lightly attended affairs. But in Watauga and Pasquotank Counties, recent meetings have been acrimonious and highly partisan.

Last month, the Watauga County Board of Elections moved a polling site off of the Appalachian State University campus. Across the state, the Pasquotank County Board of Elections denied a college student a chance to run for local office. Both decisions were decried by Democrats as efforts to suppress the votes of young people. Since this spring, all local Boards of Elections are Republican-majority.

Kay Hagan is urging the US Attorney General to review NC's Voter ID law.
Third Way Think Tank via Flickr, Creative Commons

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan says she's asked the nation's Attorney General to look into the state's new Voter ID law.  The North Carolina Democrat says she wanted Eric Holder to examine the legislation signed this month by Republican Governor Pat McCrory.  Hagan says the law enacts restrictions that could suppress voter turnout among minorities, as well as younger and older voters.  Supporters say it's intended to prevent fraud at the polls.  Hagan told WUNC's Frank Stasio those instances barely exist.

This week, North Carolina's governor signed a new law requiring a state-approved photo ID to cast a vote in a polling place and shortening the period for early voting. The move comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had required large parts of the state to get federal approval before changing voting laws.

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NC NAACP leader Reverend William Barber speaks to Moral Monday protesters.
Matthew Lenard

Several advocacy organizations have filed suit against the state of North Carolina after Governor Pat McCrory signed broad-based voting reform.  Earlier today, leaders with the NAACP spoke out against the law. Reverend William Barber said it unfairly targets African-American voters.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it’s going to take legal action to stop the country’s newest — and one of its most restrictive — voter ID laws, signed into law yesterday by Republican Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina.

The new law requires voters to show government-issued photo ID cards, and outlaws college ID cards or out-of-state driver’s licenses as valid forms of identification.

The law also eliminates same-day voter registration, and allows any registered voter to challenge another’s eligibility.

McCrory spoke about his decision to sign HB 589 in a video.
NC Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill today that requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls, despite opposition from Attorney General Roy Cooper. In addition to requiring a form of photo ID for voters, the bill also shortens early voting by one week. Hours after he signed the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit challenging the bill.

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