NC NAACP targets 2013 NC voting law
CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article failed to clarify the role student government will play in election events. While Director of State and External Affairs Wilson Parker will organize get-out-the-vote events as president of UNC Young Democrats, all student government activities related to November elections will be organized by External Chairwoman Diana Dayal. Parker said student government, as a whole, aims to be nonpartisan in its approach to elections. The story has been updated to reflect this change.
And the state’s chapter of the NAACP wants to put that possibility to rest.
A federal judge on Aug. 8 declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have delayed the implementation of the law — but the N.C. NAACP and the state’s League of Women Voters joined on Friday to appeal that decision.
The groups say the regulations shouldn’t apply until a lawsuit challenging the law goes to trial in July 2015.
“We must start now by doing everything we can to block this law for the November election,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP, in a statement.
The law, passed by the N.C. General Assembly in 2013, is best known for its voter identification provision, which will require voters to present a state-issued ID at the polls beginning in 2016.
The provisions that eliminated same-day registration, cut early voting from 17 days to 10 days and threw out straight-ticket voting all took effect Jan. 1.
Last year, legislators touted the law as a means of addressing voter fraud in the state, while critics said Republican lawmakers were trying to disenfranchise minority and youth voters. The regulations have been the target of several legal challenges, including by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jay DeLancy, executive director of the Voter Integrity Project of N.C., said he thinks the NAACP and other groups are fighting a losing battle by appealing.
Voter fraud in the state is a real problem, he said, and the law brings North Carolina into line with other states. He noted that most states have already abolished straight-ticket voting — only 14 states allow the practice.
“We’re talking about the basic civil right of voting, and the security of that civil right is just as important,” he said.
Barber said there is evidence African-American voters will be disproportionately impacted by the law.
Wilson Parker, president of UNC Young Democrats, said he’s concerned that the elimination of same-day registration and the shorter early voting period will hurt UNC student turnout.
Nearly 10,000 people voted early at UNC’s on-campus site in Rams Head Dining Hall during the 2012 presidential elections, according to data from the Orange County Board of Elections.
But campus political leaders will work throughout the fall to ensure students get to the polls and are informed about voting, said Parker, who’s also the director of state and external affairs for Student Body President Andrew Powell.
All student government activities related to November elections will be organized by External Chairwoman Diana Dayal. Parker said student government, as a whole, aims to be nonpartisan in its approach to elections.
DeLancy said he thinks the voting law can withstand legal challenges next year.
“If the evidence is heard in an open and honest way, it will be a slam dunk for the state of North Carolina,” he said.