An attempt by Republican lawmakers in North Carolina to enact a statewide voter identification law was blocked by members of the state’s court of appeals, who wagged their fingers like Dikembe Mutombo and said the law was discriminatory against Black voters.
According to CNN, Senate Bill 824 was initially passed in 2018 after the GOP lost its supermajority in the state’s legislature. It would require voters in North Carolina to present a photo ID to vote. Strict laws like this are seen as disenfranchising because not every American citizen has a proper photo ID, which includes a disproportionate number of people of color.
Due to that very reason, the court of appeals put a hold on the law under a preliminary injunction before it could officially take effect in 2020.
Per the Raleigh News & Observer, the panel of three state Superior Court judges ruled to block the law altogether on Friday because it was partially written with the intent to make it harder for Black residents to vote in elections.
From the News & Observer:
“In reaching this conclusion, we do not find that any member of the General Assembly who voted in favor of (voter ID) harbors any racial animus or hatred towards African American voters, but rather ... that the Republican majority ‘target[ed] voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constitute[s] racial discrimination.’”
The News & Observer reports that while most states have a variation of a voter ID law, not all of them strictly require a photo ID as North Carolina lawmakers wanted. Some accept utility bills and other documents to prove identities, while other states that do require photo ID offer variations in acceptable IDs.
The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a handy breakdown of what identification is accepted in states with voter ID laws if you’re curious.
More from the News & Observer:
“Other, less restrictive voter ID laws would have sufficed to achieve the legitimate nonracial purposes of implementing the constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, deterring fraud, or enhancing voter confidence,” the judges wrote.
Naturally, this decision did not sit well with the state’s Republican Party, who argued that the goal of the bill was actually to prevent voter fraud–an issue that the News & Observer points out rarely impacts elections in North Carolina.
A key example given by the newspaper was the 2016 election, when the state initiated a detailed audit of every allegation of illegal voting in each county.
Not only would the outcomes of North Carolina’s elections stay the same if it turned out that any of that year’s 508 possible fraud cases were true, only one of the allegations turned out to be the kind of fraud that voter ID laws would actually prevent, according to the News & Observer.
In that case, The News & Observer reported, a woman in Catawba County admitted to pretending to be her recently deceased mother to cast another ballot for Trump. The local district attorney, a Republican, declined to prosecute her.
So, yeah. There’s that.
Per ABC 11, legal counsel for Tim Moore, the Republican speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, issued a statement that highlighted the fact that two Democratic lawmakers also co-sponsored the bill and echoed the dissenting opinion of panel judge Nathaniel J. Poovey, who said there was no evidence introduced during the trial that proved legislators intended to discriminate.
“This fight is far from over,” Sam Hayes, Moore’s legal counsel, said in the statement. “We look forward to appealing this partisan ruling on behalf of the people of North Carolina.”