Judge now pondering Voter ID case

Judge now pondering Voter ID case
February 04
00:00 2016

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle 

A federal judge is now weighting the evidence and arguments in the N.C. NAACP vs. McCrory trial that began last July.

The main argument of the plaintiffs against a new photo ID requirement that will go into effect for the first time this year was delayed after the General Assembly altered the law to allow for exemptions for voters who have a reasonable impediment to getting a photo ID.

Although they acknowledge the change, attorneys representing the NAACP and the U.S. Justice Department argue that a photo ID requirement places discriminatory burdens on minority voters. During closing arguments on Monday, Penda Hair said over the 18-hour time period they were allowed to argue their case, they presented more than enough evidence that proves the photo ID requirement would make it hard for minorities to vote.

As she stood before U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, Hart mentioned blacks and Hispanic voters have to overcome a number of obstacles to obtain a photo ID, such as transportation, and financial issues.

She also discussed how the statue differs from similar laws in South Carolina and Georgia. The N.C. law only allows voters to use IDs issued from the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, while other states allow citizens to use any photo ID issued in the United States including work or school identification cards.

“The Department of Motor Vehicles is a dysfunctional organization,” she said. “We all have had our issues with the DMV. They placed hurdles in front of people to make it hard to obtain photo IDs, even ones that are free.”

Attorney representing the state, Thomas Farr, said because the law hasn’t been implemented yet, there is no proof that it will have a negative impact on minority voters. Farr also said the plaintiffs didn’t have any evidence to back their claim.

“The plaintiffs’ argument makes for some good sound bites, but that’s pretty much it,” he continued. “I have not heard one shred of evidence that proves the photo ID requirement would keep blacks and Hispanics from voting.”

Farr also argued that only a small percent of black and Hispanic voters don’t have a state issued photo ID. During a press conference held outside the federal courthouse, president of the N.C. NAACP Rev. Dr. William J. Barber said even if one person is denied the right to vote, something has to be done.

“If one is discriminated against, that is one person too many,” said Barber. “The law is unequal, intimidating, and unnecessary. We’ve seen this before; these are Jim Crow tactics in the 21st century.”

Although it is unclear when Judge Schroeder will make a ruling on the case, both sides have until Thursday, Feb. 11, to submit any additional evidence.

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