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DOJ sues North Carolina to prevent new voting laws

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced [press release] on Monday that it has filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] to bar North Carolina from implementing their recently-passed voting reform bill [HB 589; materials], stating that the stricter requirements will disproportionately effect minority groups. Particularly, the DOJ takes issue with the bill's reduction of days allotted for early voting, prohibition on the counting of certain ballots and strict requirement of photo identification cards. According to the DOJ, these restrictions were "adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group." The lawsuit was filed with the intent to bar North Carolina from enforcing these new requirements and to "ensure that the changes do not have a discriminatory effect or a discriminatory purpose."

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory [official website] signed the voter ID bill [JURIST report] into law in August, requiring voters to present government-issued photo ID at the polls. The law would effectively roll back the early voting period [CBS report] and repeal one-stop registration during early voting. The North Carolina General Assembly [official website] approved the bill [JURIST report] in July, despite criticism from Democrats who argued that the legislation would have the effect of disenfranchising many voters. North Carolina was the first state to make changes to its voting laws after June's US Supreme Court ruling, which struck down [JURIST report] Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) [Cornell LII backgrounder]. More than 30 US states have passed some version of voter ID law [JURIST backgrounder], including 17 that require a photo ID.

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