Regarding your Aug. 17 editorial “McCrory’s belated request to restore voter ID would disrupt NC voting”: Gov. Pat McCrory asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate North Carolina’s election laws for the upcoming election. While critics claim that a stay would produce confusion,they ignore the successful rollout of these reforms beginning in the 2014 midterm elections.
The early voting schedule has been in place since 2014, increasing minority participation. Similarly, voter ID had a successful rollout during the 2016 primaries. Without a stay, this hard work will be tossed aside, and our State Board of Elections and counties must go back to the drawing board to plan and educate voters about a new system with little time to spare.
McCrory stands strongly behind the right of the people of our state to establish and, when they deem necessary, to reform the rules that govern our system of fair elections. The Fourth Circuit decision unfairly strips this right from North Carolina.
While North Carolina now cannot require a basic photo ID to vote, South Carolina is allowed to keep its nearly identical photo ID rule. In Texas, voting rights advocates and state elections officials have agreed to adopt an ID standard that mirrors North Carolina’s requirement, including the free voter identification cards and voter education effort that North Carolina implemented.
A mere eight years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that states may require a photo ID for voting, and over 30 other states have similar voter ID laws because they recognize that these requirements help prevent fraud and restore confidence in election systems.
Despite having a far more generous early voting program than many neighboring states, North Carolina election officials are now being forced to revamp an early voting and registration system less than three months before the November general election. This is an unreasonable administrative burden.
North Carolina already provides almost exactly the same number of early voting hours as it did during the 2010 and 2012 elections, but now those hours are set so that working people are able to take advantage. In 2014, minority participation increased compared with the old system during the 2010 midterm elections. If states such as New York can have no early voting, North Carolina should be able to redistribute its generous early voting hours in a way that benefits working families.
North Carolina cannot allow the Fourth Circuit’s characterizations of our state to go unchallenged. Prior to the Fourth Circuit’s opinion, District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder found our laws to be constitutional. He considered a 25,000-page record, heard countless hours of testimony and made meticulous findings of fact in a 485-page opinion. Part of his findings included the fact that legislators were not acting with discriminatory intent and that the state’s election reforms had no discriminatory effect on minority participation.
The Court of Appeals appears to have ignored these critical facts. North Carolina is a competitive battleground. Our residents deserve to be able to manage our election system and implement sensible reforms. The governor is asking the Supreme Court to preserve that ability.
General counsel to Gov. Pat McCrory
The length limit was waived to permit a longer response to the editorial.