North Carolina’s new restrictions on voting may favor the Republican Party, but Democrats must prove more than that to beat them in court.
GOP legislators who passed the rules last summer say they are designed to streamline and modernize the state’s voting while also blocking election fraud, a problem they describe as rampant and undetected.
Opponents – including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – say the claims of fraud are a ruse and that the laws are part of a national campaign by conservatives to suppress voting by minorities, the poor and the young. Those groups are part of an emerging Democratic coalition that swung North Carolina to President Barack Obama in 2008 and came close again four years later.
Who wins in court may hinge on whether judges believe Republicans were motivated by politics or race. In other words, have black voters been discriminated against? Or were they legal targets of hard-ball GOP politics?
“Race or Party?” is the theme of the 2013 American Values Public Lecture I’ll be giving at NC State on October 24 and my keynote address at this conference on October 25. I will also post soon on SSRN a draft, Race or Party?: How Courts Should Think About Republican Efforts to Make It Harder to Vote in North Carolina and Elsewhere.