Judge delays ruling on legislators' voting law records

Posted February 21, 2014

Voting in N.C., voting generic

— A federal judge said Friday that she needs more information before deciding whether 13 North Carolina lawmakers should have to turn over records relating to election law changes passed last year.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union and others are asking the judge to force lawmakers to release emails and other records related to the passage of the new elections law.

The law requires voters to show photo identification at the polls. It also limits early voting times and ends same-day registration. The plaintiffs say those changes are designed to suppress voter turnout, especially among minorities. Lawmakers have so far refused to release any records about the law, citing "legislative immunity."

"We request documentation that shows the circumstances under which this (law) was passed," said ACLU attorney Julie Ebenstein. "These claims are very serious."

Alexander Peters, an attorney for the state, argued that lawmakers are immune from having to disclose those records and that they are exempt from the state's public records law.

"(The plaintiffs) are saying, 'Tell us why you voted how you voted,'" Peters said. "What an individual legislator thought on that is not only irrelevant, it is not evidence of what the General Assembly intended."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake said she would take the issue under advisement and asked the attorneys to give her more information before she makes a ruling.

"I'm looking for actual examples of immunity being used (to quash subpoenas)," Peake said. "I don't want to stretch this out, given the timeframes that you're under."

The NAACP, ACLU and others are suing Gov. Pat McCrory and the State Board of Elections over the new elections law. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a separate lawsuit, alleging that North Carolina's law is racially motivated. 

McCrory and Republican lawmakers who crafted the legislation contend that North Carolina is merely trying to combat voter fraud and ensure the integrity of its elections, and they note that many other states already have similar laws for voter ID, same-day registration and other provisions in North Carolina's law.


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  • 68_dodge_polara Feb 25, 2014

    I don't believe emails fall under the normal public records request nor does the article say that this is as public records request.

  • Matt Wood Feb 25, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Of course they should! However, what you fail to realize is that to obtain the information there has to be a public records request made. Anyone can make the request (though McCrory wants you to pay for it), but it's simply not physically possible to just post everything online or something. So, if you want some info, (supposedly) all you need do is ask! It just has to go through an approval process and the records you request have to be reviewed and redacted for any sensitive information.

    And that's what happened here, but the legislators hope they can block it. It's not a witch hunt, it's run-of-the-mill.

  • 68_dodge_polara Feb 25, 2014

    "These are public records. End of discussion."

    If this were true than all emails regarding any legislation should be for public viewing not just a certain select few which makes this a witch hunt. Let's make them all public. Why not?

  • leetravieso Feb 25, 2014

    These are public records. End of discussion.

  • ALECarolina Feb 24, 2014

    Ok, I'll see your "if the emails show nothing wrong", and raise you "if the emails show nothing wrong, then why won't they let us look at 'em".

    We'll be happy when the truth comes out......will you?

  • lec02572 Feb 24, 2014

    What are you going to say, if the e-mails show nothing wrong? I guess then you will say, they doctored the e-mails. You'll never be happy with the answer.

  • ALECarolina Feb 24, 2014

    The silence from the usual suspects is DEAFENING.

    Whatsamatta ya'll, Limbaugh and Hannity haven't issued their usual talking points yet?

    Maybe even they know that the NCGOP is up a tree on this 'un........

  • Pensive01 Feb 24, 2014

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    Actually the NCGA did address absentee ballots......by loosening the restrictions thereby making them even easier to be obtained by people and by others on behalf of someone. Still no ID required for doing so either.

  • Michael Hart Feb 24, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Oh there is something wrong but the NCGA completely ignored Absentee voting where no id is required.... Next sheep please!

  • downtowner Feb 24, 2014

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    You aren't alone in thinking that voting laws need to be updated for the 21st century. However, you didn't even address the main concern here, which is government transparency and the hidden motivations behind this legislation. So why don't you go back and rethink your position again.