In the last state legislative session, North Carolina changed its voting laws to ensure the integrity of its elections. Photo ID will be required in 2016, there will be no more same day registration, and voters will be required to vote in their own precincts.
The reasoning behind these changes was simple. Voter ID prevents a voter from being disenfranchised by someone who casts an illegal vote. Same day registration does not provide a way to check to make sure someone actually lives at the address they state. As I recently reported, a friend of mine who lives in North Carolina checked the voter registration rolls a few weeks ago and found out that there were six people who claimed her house as a residence, but did not live there. That is potentially six illegal votes cancelling out the votes of legal voters. Requiring people to vote in their own precinct ensures that they receive the appropriate ballot. Precinct ballots vary according to local offices being filled, obviously, voters need to vote for their local officials–not someone else’s. The idea behind the new law was to secure the right of voters to an honest election.
Unfortunately, some of that law was recently struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. According to the U. S. Supreme Court blog, the Fourth Circuit judges felt that the new laws would limit the black vote. I guess I’m a little dense, but it seems to me that if it actually limited anyone’s ability to vote (which it doesn’t), it would limit everyone’s ability to vote. Registering to vote is easy–it can be done five days a week at the Board of Elections or when you get your license. Advance registration gives the Board of Elections time to confirm your address. Voting in your precinct should not be a problem as your precinct is determined by where you live–therefore the voting place should be relatively close to your home.
Well, now the U. S. Supreme Court is involved.
The article reports:
The Supreme Court, with two Justices noting dissents, on Wednesday afternoon allowed North Carolina to bar voters from registering and casting their ballots on the same day, and to refuse to count votes that were cast in the wrong polling places. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. The majority did not explain its action.
The order gives the state time to file an appeal from lower-court rulings striking down those two provisions, which were part of a larger, sweeping change in voting rights in the state. If the Court grants review of the state’s appeal, the postponement will remain in effect until there is a decision.
Justice Ginsburg, writing for herself and Justice Sotomayor, argued that the two restrictions at issue as well as others in the broader reach of the new law probably would have been found illegal, if the Voting Rights Act of 1965 remained in full effect and North Carolina had had to ask permission from the federal government to make those changes. The Court last year limited the 1965 Act in a way that the dissenters said “effectively nullified” the law’s pre-clearance requirement.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the two provisions permitted by Wednesday’s Supreme Court order would risk a significant reduction in voting opportunities for black voters in North Carolina, in violation of a part of the Voting Rights Act still intact.
Ensuring the integrity of the vote does not disenfranchise anyone–in fact, it ensures that legal voters will not be disenfranchised by illegal voters.