Scott: Voting is a right given to each American, and a threat to that liberty is seen as a serious offense, which is exactly why the Department of Justice is taking a state to court over its recent changes in voter law. Maggie Rulli has the story.
Maggie: This week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sued the state of North Carolina over its new, stricter voting law.
Attorney General Eric Holder: This is an intentional step to break a system that was working. And it defies common sense.
Maggie: North Carolina’s governor was quick to respond.
Governor Pat McCrory: In fact, I believe the federal government action is an overreach and without merit.
Maggie: The Justice Department says the state’s new requirements are some of the most severe in the country. They enforce strict photo identification rules, reduce the number of days of early voting and eliminate same-day voter registration – all things that they claim will unjustly target minorities.
Holder: This law, we think, will have a disproportionate negative impact on minority voters.
Maggie: The battle over voter rights heated up this summer when the Supreme Court overturned part of the Voting Rights Act. Under the act, certain states, primarily in the South, needed to ask for federal approval before making any changes to voting laws. But now, any state can implement restrictions on voting laws without asking for federal approval. So far, 34 states have passed some form of voter ID laws.
Many Democrats say these laws target minorities, the elderly, and young people because those groups are less likely to have a photo ID, and getting one can cost both time and money.
According to recent statistics, 21 million U.S. citizens do not have a government-issued photo ID. And that includes 25% of all African-Americans, 18% of Americans over 65, and 16% of Hispanics.
But many Republicans and conservative groups support voter ID laws and say they help ensure voters are exactly who they say they are, and combat voter fraud in elections – that is when people try to vote illegally. And that is exactly why North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, says he signed the bill into law last month.
McCrory: Protecting the integrity of every vote cast is among the most important duties I have as governor.
Maggie: He also says in January, residents of his state will able to get free ID cards they can use for voting.
The Justice Department already filed a similar lawsuit against Texas, which requires its residents to have a photo ID when they register to vote. They want to use these states as an example to others and send a message that states cannot pass restrictive voting laws without consequences. Now, it is up to the courts to decide.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.