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The Daily Tar Heel

Judge upholds NC voting laws amidst claims of voter suppression

Students vote during the 2012 election at the Center for Dramatic Arts. Students must register today to vote in the primaries.

Students vote during the 2012 election at the Center for Dramatic Arts. Students must register today to vote in the primaries.

Judge Thomas Schroeder’s 485-page opinion affirmed the legality of ending same day voter registration and preregistration for minors, shortening early voting by a week and prohibiting voters from casting ballots outside of their home precincts.

Rev. William Barber II, N.C. NAACP president, said in a conference call the voter revisions have had profound impacts on the country.

“The fact of the matter is we have almost 500 pages of rationalization for the intentional race-based voter suppression laws that everybody knows were written to suppress African-American votes,” he said.

Irving Joyner, an attorney for the N.C. NAACP and law professor at North Carolina Central University, said an expedited appeal would swiftly follow Schroeder’s ruling. The case will likely end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

Claims for voter fraud in the state lack evidence, and are used as a cover when the right to vote is under attack, Joyner said.

“In truth, the motivation was to reduce participation of African Americans and Hispanics in the voting process,” he said.

Joyner said the laws disproportionately affect minorities and youth, which provides an advantage to Republicans seeking re-election.

Susan Myrick, an elections analyst at the conservative-leaning Civitas Institute, said the measures being repealed were liberal efforts to secure elections for Democrats. The policies gave the state one of the country’s most progressive voting attitudes, she said.

Preregistration is a wasted effort because high school kids disperse and reregister to vote when they get to college, Myrick said. And early voting was shortened to provide extra time for the Board of Elections to properly register voters.

Schroeder said in his opinion that the state’s record of “shameful discrimination” is no longer at play.

“In North Carolina’s recent history, however, certainly for the last quarter century, there is little official discrimination to consider,” he said in the opinion.

Michael Glick, an attorney for Kirkland & Ellis LLP working with the NAACP, said in a conference call the legal team representing the NAACP demonstrated minority classes were disadvantaged in regard to education, opportunity, housing and transportation in previous state policy.

“All of these things have affected these members’ ability to participate in the political process,” he said.

It is important to remember the real people whose voting rights are being trivialized, Barber said.

“This North Carolina battle is the epicenter of deciding if America is going to go forward, or if we’re going to go backwards,” he said.

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