North Carolina’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said on Tuesday that it would appeal against a judge’s decision to uphold a voting law that the civil rights group and other critics have said is discriminatory.
The NAACP chapter and the Justice Department had previously filed suit against the state’s law, which removed protections for minority voters, but their case was dismissed on Monday.
“We know that people, African Americans, Latinos, women and students have been disenfranchised by this voter suppression law and we are appealing immediately,” said reverend William J Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, in a call with reporters.
The law is best known for requiring people to provide photo identification at the ballot box, but it also eliminated same-day voter registration and ended “out-of-precinct” voting, which allowed users to cast ballots in different precincts if they were still voting in their county.
“There is no dispute that African Americans and Latinos have used the challenged measures at greatly higher rates than whites,” said Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project and an attorney for the NAACP.
But in the Monday ruling, US district judge Thomas Schroeder said plaintiffs “failed to show that such disparities will have materially adverse effects on the ability of minority voters to cast a ballot and effectively exercise the electoral franchise.”
Schroeder wrote that while the state has “shameful past discrimination”, there has been “little” official discrimination more recently.
Schroeder’s decision is a product of the 2013 supreme court ruling which struck down a part of the 1965 act that required states with a history of discrimination, such as North Carolina, to get pre-approval to make changes to their voting laws, a process called “pre-clearance”.
The NAACP’s legal team said that if the 1965 Voting Rights Act had still been in place, changes to the North Carolina law would not have held up in court.
The legal battle began when governor Pat McCrory signed the changes into law in August 2013. That same day, a coalition of civil rights groups filed suit against the law, HB 589.
North Carolina NAACP attorney Irving Joyner said the ruling was an “urgent reminder” that Congress needed to restore the Voting Rights Act in full.
North Carolina’s voting laws are widely regarded as the most restrictive in the country, but legal challenges have also recently been mounted against changes to voting laws in Alabama, Texas and Tennessee, where a judge in December 2015 threw out a challenge brought by college students.
In the 2016 presidential election, 17 states will have introduced new voting restrictions since the last presidential election, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.
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