More on NC Voter ID

If you really want to understand anything on voting law, Rick Hasen’s blog is definitely the place to go.   (It was a great thrill for me to bring him to NC State as a guest speaker a few years ago).  Here’s his incredibly thorough discussion of the NC Voter ID decision.  I found this third point most interesting:

3.  Now what is meant by racially discriminatory intent? In the 5th Circuit case, it seems the court there said that acting with knowledge of effects on minority voters is just as bad as acting with that purpose. (See my analysis of the 5th Circuit opinion here.) The 4th Circuit offered a similar, though not identical, analysis: “But intentionally targeting a particular race’s access to the franchise because its members vote for a particular party, in a predictable manner, constitutes discriminatory purpose. This is so even absent any evidence of race-based hatred and despite the obvious political dynamics.” And later there is this key part: “Our conclusion does not mean, and we do not suggest, that any member of the General Assembly harbored racial hatred or animosity toward any minority group. But the totality of the circumstances — North Carolina’s history of voting discrimination; the surge in African American voting; the legislature’s knowledge that African Americans voting translated into support for one party; and the swift elimination of the tools African Americans had used to vote and imposition of a new barrier at the first opportunity to do so — cumulatively and unmistakably reveal that the General Assembly used SL 2013-381 to entrench itself. It did so by targeting voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constituted racial discrimination.” [emphasis mine]

Yep. Key point.  Even if this was not enacted out of racial animus (it wasn’t), that does not mean it is not racially discriminatory in an unconstitutional manner.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to More on NC Voter ID

  1. Alex says:

    “Even if this was not enacted out of racial animus (it wasn’t)”

    That’s very charitable of you. I’m not sure I come to the same conclusion.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Honestly, I think it was enacted quite simply for partisan advantage. Did they have any qualms about hurting minority voters in the process? Clearly not, but I really don’t think that was a particular motivation. Rather a means to an end.

      • Alex says:

        Perhaps. I tend to believe that, while the primary driver was partisan advantage, there was certainly an element of racial animus here. That said, from a legal perspective, it doesn’t really matter, as the Fourth Circuit accurately pointed out.

        From a practical perspective on the future of the GOP, certainly this is just one more example among many that proves to minorities that they aren’t welcome in that party.

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