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GOP leaders propose new voter ID amendment

Constitutional provision could target black and transgender voters

State legislative leaders are hoping to revive efforts to institute requirements for photo IDs before a person can cast a ballot in North Carolina, despite court decisions overruling past attempts as unconstitutional and racially discriminatory.

GOP leaders announced a new effort to a pass a proposed amendment to the state constitution this week. It would ask voters to approve the new voting restrictions, but details about what types of photo IDs would only be decided later by legislators themselves.

House Speaker Tim Moore said it was lawmakers’ chief duty to protect the state’s voting process, citing fraud prevention. Experts and an extensive audit of the 2016 election by state election officials, however, found only one possible fraudulent vote out of nearly five million cast ballots.

Advocates say voter ID requirements specifically target marginalized communities, especially low-income people and people of color.

Allison Riggs, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice who argued against the 2013 law in the lengthy court reviews that followed, said in a statement Thursday that legislators are “trying to trick voters into doing their dirty work for them.”

“This is an obvious effort to implement a policy that has been shot down as being racially discriminatory,” Allison Riggs, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in a statement. Riggs argued against an overruled 2013 law in federal court.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned prior voter ID requirements in 2016. When they did, the court said Republican leaders had targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” They also noted that the legislature had used data showing that black voters were less likely than white voters to have the specific types of ID required in the law.

Photo ID requirements for voting would also target transgender people. Individuals who have begun transitioning but not yet had their name or gender marker changed on official state IDs could face increased scrutiny at the polls, especially if their gender expression did not match the official gender marker on the ID.

Read more about the proposal in this WRAL report and this Charlotte Observer editorial.

Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.

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