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Attorneys, lawmakers react to NC voter ID law

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 10:03 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - In a 2-1 decision on Friday, a panel of North Carolina judges struck down a photo voter ID law again, saying the law written by lawmakers in 2018 was racially discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Associate Paul D. Brachman, along with others with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, had represented five North Carolina voters in a 2018 lawsuit against Senate Bill 824, which was approved by a Republican-led supermajority in a lame-duck session, was racially motivated, according to SCSJ.

Brachman gave his reaction in a webinar on Friday.

“We are so, so delighted with this outcome,” Brachman said. “It is a just outcome and it is long overdue.”

Republican lawmakers had backed legislation to require photo ID at the polls and the idea was also approved by a majority of North Carolina voters in a 2018 referendum.

“You know I’m disappointed,” Rep. Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir) said. “The voters in North Carolina have basically voted, put this law in our state constitution. The idea the ruling was discriminatory, and they [judges] can’t even produce evidence of that, so I know the ruling will be appealed.”

Chief counsel for voting rights at Southern Coalition for Social Justice Allison Riggs argued North Carolinians approved a voter ID law with exceptions.

“They didn’t trust this legislature to do it, because this legislature had a track record of being racially discriminatory,” Riggs said.

For Humphrey, the voter ID law makes common sense.

“Voter integrity is important all across the country,” Humphrey said. “You’ve got to have an ID to board an airplane ... get a COVID shot. We just want to make sure that you are who you say you are and that every vote counts.”

But for Riggs, this has been a fight from House Bill 589 in 2013 that was rushed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.

“We could have seen an effort to look at the data and what the data show,” Riggs said. “There was no reason to not conduct the kind of no-match analysis that had been conducted historically, and to craft legislation designed to make sure that voters, black voters in particular, we included ID’s that would help ameliorate the burden felt and that’s exactly what the trial court discussed in its opinion.”

Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) released a statement on the photo voter ID ruling below:

“For all their talk about a secure democracy, the left, with an able assist from the judiciary, is doing their best to undermine it. Today, a partisan court blocked the will of a majority of North Carolinians who amended their Constitution to require photo voter ID. The North Carolina Constitution requires photo voter ID. Today, a court decided requiring photo voter ID violates that same Constitution. The court absurdly concluded that a law sponsored by an African American Democrat was designed to harm African American voters. It’s unbelievable. Photo voter ID laws are designed to bolster confidence in elections. Calling this law irredeemably racist does the exact opposite. The Republican-led legislature has made incredible strides to increase confidence in elections, and Democrats continue to use the judicial branch to thwart the will of the majority of North Carolinians. We will appeal this case.”

Sam Hayes, general counsel for House Speaker Tim Moore, said in a statement they look forward to appealing this “partisan ruling on behalf of the people of North Carolina.

The full statement is below:

“Once again, liberal judges have defied the will of North Carolinians on election integrity. Voters of this state have repeatedly supported a voter ID requirement – going so far as to enshrine it in our state constitution. Senate Bill 824 is one of the most generous in the country, and it was modeled on those of other states. At trial, Plaintiffs could not produce a single witness who would be unable to vote because of the law. In his dissent, Judge Poovey noted that “[n]ot one scintilla of evidence was introduced during this trial that any legislator acted with racially discriminatory intent.” In fact, the bill was co-sponsored by African-American State Senator Joel Ford. This fight is far from over. We look forward to appealing this partisan ruling on behalf of the people of North Carolina.”

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