The Justice Department will announce Monday that it is suing the state of North Carolina for alleged racial discrimination over tough new voting rules.
In asking for pre-clearance, the Justice Department will ask a federal judge to place the four provisions in North Carolina’s new law under federal scrutiny for an indeterminate period.
The suit is the latest effort by the Obama administration to fight back against a Supreme Court decision that struck down the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act and freed southern states from strict federal oversight of their elections.
North Carolina’s new law scales back the period for early voting and imposes stringent voter identification requirements. It is among at least five Southern states adopting stricter voter ID and other election laws. The Justice Department on Aug. 22 sued Texas over the state’s voter ID law and is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit over redistricting laws in Texas that minority groups consider to be discriminatory.
Republican lawmakers in southern states insist the new measures are needed to prevent voter fraud, though such crimes are infrequent. Democrats and civil rights groups argue the tough new laws are intended to make voting more difficult for minorities and students, voting groups that lean toward Democrats, in states with legacies of poll taxes and literacy tests.
Attorney General Eric Holder will be joined at a news conference Monday by the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Joceyln Samuels, and the three U.S. attorneys from North Carolina, the Associated Press reported.
In the North Carolina lawsuit, the person said, the government will challenge requirements in state law that eliminate the first seven days of early voting opportunities and eliminate same-day voter registration during the early voting period. Same-day registration allows voters to cast a ballot immediately after presenting elections officials with proof of their name and home address.
The Justice Department challenge also is aimed at a provision eliminating the counting of certain types of provisional ballots by voters who cast ballots in their home counties but do not vote in the correct precincts.
Finally, the federal government will challenge a provision in the new law that requires voters to present government-issued identification at the polls in order to cast ballots. In North Carolina, a recent state board of elections survey found that hundreds of thousands of registered voters did not have a state-issued ID. Many of those voters are young, black, poor or elderly.