Why North Carolina's Voter-ID Bill Is the Nation's Worst

Mother Jones' Lauren Williams checks in on recent revisions to a photo-ID bill in the North Carolina Legislature. She explains why it just may be the nation's most onerous and restrictive voter-ID law in recent history. 

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A voter-registration drive at North Carolina Central University in 2012 (Christopher Diltz for Obama for America/Flickr)

Mother Jones' Lauren Williams examines the North Carolina GOP Legislature's recent revisions to a photo-ID bill. She explains why it just may be the nation's most onerous and restrictive voter-ID law in recent history. 

For decades, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required cities, counties and states with histories of discriminatory voting laws to seek federal permission -- preclearance, in legal parlance -- before changing their election rules. When the Supreme Court invalidated part of the VRA last month, that all changed. The high court's decision made it easier for jurisdictions with troubled pasts to enact restrictive voting laws. Now North Carolina is set to do just that.

North Carolina's GOP-led legislature has taken many controversial steps in recent weeks -- sneaking anti-abortion measures into a motorcycle safety law and cutting unemployment benefits for 70,000 North Carolinians, to name two. But new revisions (pdf) to a photo ID voting bill, which passed the House in April and is up for a Senate vote today, might take the cake. The revised bill prohibits same-day registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, eliminates one week of early voting, prevents counties from extending voting hours due to long lines (often caused by cuts in early voting) or other extraordinary circumstances, scratches college ID cards and other forms of identification from the very short list of acceptable state-issued photo IDs, and outlaws certain types of voter registration drives.

It's quite possibly the most restrictive voter ID bill in recent years, says Denise Leiberman, senior attorney for Advancement Project, a nonprofit civil rights organization.

"The list of acceptable identification has been whittled away to such a small list, and that's really what makes it so repressive," she says. "The list is so small that many, many people in North Carolina aren't going to have an acceptable ID."

Read Lauren Williams' entire piece at Mother Jones.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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Lauren is a former Deputy Editor of The Root.

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