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North Carolina asks Supreme Court to reinstate voter ID law

By Eric DuVall
North Carolina asks Supreme Court to reinstate voter ID law
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks about the state budget in April. His administration filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay of a lower court's ruling overturning a voter ID law that the judge said deliberately affects black voters in November. Photo courtesy the office of Gov. Pat McCrory

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- North Carolina has filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a voter identification law that was struck down by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the law discriminated against minorities.

The North Carolina Legislature passed the law reducing the number of early voting days from 17 to 10. As is the case with laws passed in several other states, the North Carolina legislation, which was passed thanks to Republican support and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, requires voters to show state-issued photo ID in order to gain access to a ballot.

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The Fourth Circuit said the law disproportionately affects minorities, particularly black voters, with "almost surgical precision."

The Fourth Circuit was one of several appeals courts that have struck down voter ID laws in the wake of Shelby County vs. Holder, a Supreme Court decision that eliminated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required Southern states with a history of racial discrimination to pre-clear changes to election laws with the Justice Department. In the wake of that decision, several states have passed laws requiring voters to present state-issued IDs or passports in order to gain access to the ballot box.

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Supporters argue the laws will cut down on election fraud and prevent non-citizens from voting in U.S. elections. Opponents say there is scant evidence of widespread fraud and that minorities and poor people are decidedly more likely to lack the qualifying ID required by the law. Additionally, poor people face additional hurdles to voting on Election Day, such as lacking transportation, child care and longer work hours, meaning they rely more heavily on early voting, which the North Carolina law curtails.

"The ... fundamental problem with the Fourth Circuit's decision is its complete misapprehension of the legal principles that govern an intentional discrimination inquiry," the state's application says. "Left standing, its decision not only will threaten voter-ID laws throughout the country despite this Court's decision in Crawford, but also will gut this Court's decision in Shelby County."

The Supreme Court has not responded to the state's request to stay the Fourth Circuit decision. McCrory's office said a full appeal of the decision is being drafted and will be filed soon.

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