North Carolina’s tea party governor admitted on Friday that he has not read the voter suppression bill he’s about to sign into law:
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said Friday he would sign a bill passed by the North Carolina legislature that would become the most suppressive voting law in the nation. But when asked to speak about a provision in the bill that would prohibit 17-year-olds from registering in advance of their 18th birthday, McCrory admitted he “did not know enough” and had not read that portion of the bill.
The bill, passed just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and paved the way for new suppressive state laws, imposes a laundry list of new restrictions on access to the ballot, including eliminating same-day registration, cutting early voting, easing campaign contribution limits, and expanding the mechanisms for alleging voter fraud. In remarks saying he would sign the bill, McCrory focused on his support for the bill’s voter ID requirement — a particularly suppressive and discriminatory policy that McCrory has long supported. But when asked by an Associated Press reporter about another provision in the bill to limit new voter registration opportunities, McCrory said, “I don’t know enough. I’m sorry. I haven’t read that portion of the bill.”
The US Department of Justice took an important step in combating the epidemic of Republican vote suppression efforts on Friday. The Justice Department blocked a South Carolina law requiring voters to present photo identification, because the law would disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters. South Carolina is one of the states that under the Voting Rights Act (VRA), due to a history of discriminatory practices, must obtain pre-clearance from the Justice Department for new voting requirements. The Justice Department must certify that such laws are not discriminatory in their impact, not just in their intent.
According to South Carolina, 240,000 registered voters lack the requisite identification. That alone should be a cause for concern. But the legal problem for South Carolina arises from the fact that those without photo identification are more likely to be African-American than white. (They also tend to be younger, poorer and thus more Democratic-leaning.)…
Wisconsin and Indiana, which unlike South Carolina are swing states, have similar new laws on the books. They aren’t subject to pre-clearance, meaning the Justice Department cannot stop them on the front end. After the fact, it can challenge them in court, but under a more stringent legal standard than applies in South Carolina. There are also other potential legal objections besides racial discrimination. The ACLU filed suit on December 13 against Wisconsin over its new requirement that voters show photo identification, saying it amounts to a poll tax. And that’s not the only possible legal battle likely to come: South Carolina may challenge the Justice Department’s decision, ultimately requiring the Supreme Court to weigh in.