North Carolina and the Myth of Voter Suppression

Judicial Watch’s Robert Popper has an excellent piece in today’s Wall Street Journal about the ongoing federal litigation challenging several changes to North Carolina’s election laws and how statistics from November’s election dispel the myth the changes suppressed the vote there. As we have seen in other states that have adopted voter integrity measures such as photo ID laws, North Carolina’s changes are proving to have zero impact on minority turnout, despite the hysterical claims made by the NAACP and Eric Holder’s Department of Justice (DOJ). In fact, African-American voter registration and turnout increased for the 2014 election.

Popper explains the various legislative changes at issue. For example, North Carolina moved to eliminate same day voter registration, a contentious policy that increases a state’s risk of Election Day fraud. North Carolina also tweaked its state law to require voters to vote in the precinct in which they are registered, hardly a novel or extreme measure. Another change challenged in the lawsuit is the reduction of days available for early voting from 17 to 10, although counties were required to offer the same number of early voting hours as they did before the changes kicked in. North Carolina also adopted a photo voter ID law in the legislative package although it does not take effect until 2016.

North Carolina was sued in two separate suits in August, 2013 by the NAACP, Common Cause, League of Women Voters and others. Later, a third suit was brought by Holder’s DOJ. (Click here for the pleadings and for other information on the case.) Among the extraordinary claims by DOJ as chronicled by Popper:

One expert in the Justice Department lawsuit claimed that more than 200,000 black voters, along with 700,000 white voters, would be “burdened” in an off-year election. Another expert concluded that particular provisions “will lower turnout overall” and “will have a disparate impact on African-American voters.”


Those predictions were not borne out. The 2014 elections were the first test of the impact of North Carolina’s new laws, including a “soft rollout” of its voter-ID requirement—under which poll workers asked voters if they had ID and if not, to acknowledge the new requirement in writing. Board of Elections data showed that the percentage of age-eligible, non-Hispanic black residents who turned out to vote in North Carolina rose to 41.1% in November 2014 from 38.5% in November 2010.
The percentage of black registrants voting increased to 42.2% from 40.3% in the same period, and the black share of votes cast increased to 21.4% from 20.1%. The absolute number of black voters increased 16%, to 628,004 from 539,646.

As Popper notes, this is just “the latest example of allegedly “suppressive” laws that failed to suppress votes.” Plaintiffs and left-wing groups like the Brennan Center continue to cry wolf over these laws but the results are clear: common-sense voter integrity measures simply do not suppress the vote. As the Brennan Center and others continue to lose credibility based on their outrageous claims, they are only getting more desperate and it is showing. While some activist and sympathetic judges may continue to (at least temporarily) stop these laws from being implemented, the truth is finally emerging. Even Rick Hasen and other liberals have begun to question the Chicken Little “Sky is Falling” narrative being spun by plaintiffs in these suits and groups like the Brennan Center.