NAACP, lawyers 'enthusiastic' about challenge to elections law
Posted August 13, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — A day after filing a lawsuit against Gov. Pat McCrory for his decision to sign historic elections changes into law, a team of lawyers and state NAACP President William Barber laid out their legal plan Tuesday to fight what they called "regressive, unconstitutional acts to rig and manipulate elections through voter suppression."
The lawsuit alleges that Rosanell Eaton's constitutional right to vote is threatened by House Bill 589, which requires voters to show photo identification when they go to the polls, starting in 2016. Q&A: Changes to NC election laws
"I've always been politically inclined. I've always fought," Eaton said.
The 92-year-old African-American woman said lived through Jim Crow laws, marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, had crosses burned in her yard and was arrested at a Moral Monday protest.
Eaton, of Louisburg, claims the new elections law will keep her from taking part in early voting and assisting other elderly people in her community from getting to the polls.
She also claims that voter ID provisions of the bill will force her to obtain new paperwork in order to vote. Eaton has a North Carolina driver's license, birth certificate and voter registration card, but the names vary slightly. Under the new law, those documents must match.
Eaton says getting new documents is an unnecessary and discriminatory hassle.
"Our rights are being taken away from us, and we should not stand idle," she said.
"We need to pray that these representatives will humble themselves and the Lord will soften their hearts," she said. "Their hearts are hard. They are just evil."
The far-reaching law, which passed the General Assembly last month and was signed by McCrory on Monday, also makes dozens of other changes to how the state conducts elections, including banning straight-ticket voting and pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds. The law takes effect this fall.
Barber and lawyers from the Advancement Project said their complaint, which charges that the law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, will prove racially motivated intent by the General Assembly. Penda Hair, director of the Advancement Project, said they hope that the lawsuit will halt any changes before the next set of elections in North Carolina. NAACP ready for legal fight against elections law
"We are enthusiastic about moving forward with this case," she said. "We believe we will be able to stop this law from moving forward in North Carolina."
McCrory told an interviewer Tuesday on NPR that the new law will safeguard the election process and bring North Carolina in line with what other states are doing..
"If we're naive enough to think there's not voter fraud in the 10th largest state in the United States of America, then I think we've got our head in the sand," he said. "We have loopholes in our voting laws that allow people to vote once or twice or even more because we don't have restrictions that 34 states do have."
McCrory on Monday said in statement that "protecting the integrity of every vote cast is among the most important duties I have as governor. It's why I signed these common-sense commonplace protections into law."
Barber attacked that statement Tuesday, saying the "monster" bill is about race.
"This bill is not about Voter ID. Our complaint and lawsuit will show how this bill revisits the tactics of Jim Crow in the 21st century," Barber said. "These tactics have a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on African-Americans and other minorities. It is about race, an outright attempt to manipulate elections by suppressing voting." NAACP outlines plan for elections lawsuit
McCrory blasted back at claim of racism, saying, "I think their rhetoric is misleading, and that it is just totally, it's offensive to me that they even compare the two."
Barber also attacked McCrory's claims that the NAACP and others have been divisive during several weeks of protests at the General Assembly, which have resulted in more than 900 arrests in Wake County.
"(McCrory) claims it is about integrity, and he knows it is not about integrity. He claims it is about voter ID, but he knows it is not just about voter ID," Barber said. "He claims that we use scare tactics when it is documented that he and his team use scare tactics about voter fraud."
Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan said in a release Tuesday that she sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to review House Bill 589.
“I am deeply concerned that H.B. 589 will restrict the ability of minorities, seniors, students, the disabled, and low and middle incomes citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Hagan said in a statement. “I strongly encourage the Justice Department to immediately review North Carolina House Bill 589 and take all appropriate steps to protect federal civil rights and the fundamental right to vote.”
Another lawsuit filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, tackles provisions of the law that cut a full week from the early voting period, eliminate same-day voter registration and prohibit out-of-precinct voting.