If there was a hidden agenda behind North Carolina's voter ID law to suppress minority turnout – as the law's opponents claim – it hasn't worked, based on a study showing not only more voters overall, but an increase in black voter turnout especially, after the law's implementation.
The findings came before a scheduled hearing next week where the U.S. Justice Department will ask a U.S. District Court for an injunction against the law going into the November midterms. The Obama administration has argued that such a law will make it more difficult for minorities to vote.
Comparing May 4, 2010 North Carolina primary election data with the May 14, 2014 primary data, the study found that voter turnout increased across the board, but particularly among black voters, where it increased by 29.5 percent, compared to an increase of white voter turnout of 13.7 percent. The findings were based on Census Bureau data and public names who signed the voter rolls.
Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, commissioned the study and included the findings in an amicus brief for the July 7 hearing. Judicial Watch was joined in its legal brief by the Allied Educational Foundation and by former Buncombe County commissioner candidate Christina Kelley Gallegos-Merrill.
The North Carolina law also eliminated same-day voter registration, which is why Gallegos-Merrill joined the brief. She alleges that her close loss in the state resulted from ineligible same-day registrations.
North Carolina adopted a law in line with 37 other states that don't allow same-day voter registration, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
“The recent election in North Carolina shows that the Obama administration is engaged in a race-baiting canard when it suggests that voting integrity measures suppress minority votes,” Fitton said. “It is high time that the Obama administration comes into line with the majority of the American people who want to strengthen rather than weaken ballot box integrity.”
One expert prediction from the federal court filing projected that 915,426 North Carolina voters would be burdened in off-year, non-presidential elections. Specifically, this was projected to mean 209,959 black voters and 710,567 white voters facing burdens that might dissuade them from voting.
Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, led the study and analyzed the data.
The brief asserts these finding “fundamentally undermines” the Justice Department's case for an injunction against the law, which includes about 900 pages of predictions and probabilities of how voter turnout would go down. The brief says the “expert reports are unreliable, because they predicted the opposite of what happened.”
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law in August 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of voter ID in a 6-3 decision in 2008. Since that time, 34 states have adopted some form of ID laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In a closer vote, the high court handed down a 5-4 ruling in June 2013 to strike down provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that require states with a history of preventing blacks from voting to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department before changing election laws.
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