No means no.
As far as the courts are concerned, the state’s Voter ID law is ill-conceived, unfair and calculated to disadvantage a certain group of voters. So judges keep saying no to it — most recently in a state appeals court ruling last week. And state Republicans keep refusing to accept no for an answer.
In a unanimous ruling last week, the three-judge N.C. Court of Appeals panel specifically concluded that African American voters were targeted by the law.
The judges also warned Republicans that their prospects going forward are slim to none. The plaintiffs who have sued the state over the law, the judges wrote, seem likely to be able to prove that “discriminatory intent was a motivating factor behind the law.”
A federal court had earlier ruled against the law, blocking its use at least through the March 3 primary, for which early voting already has begun.
Even so. Republicans keep arguing that the court rulings contradict “the will of the voters.”
To some extent, they have a point. In a statewide referendum in 2018, voters did approve an amendment to the N.C. constitution that requires voters to present an ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. And why not? On its face, it seemed to be a reasonable proposition.
But the details spell out an underlying agenda. For instance, the law bans IDs more likely to be possessed by African Americans, such as public assistance IDs and state employee IDs.
As for the GOP’s sincerity on voter fraud, you be the judge. The kind of fraud they purport to be targeting is extremely rare. Further, they all but ignored a more likely source of fraud, absentee voting, until it actually happened in the GOP primary in the 9th Congressional District in 2018. Charlotte Republican Mark Harris dropped out of that race after evidence of the fraud surfaced and a political operative who had worked for Harris was arrested. The scandal left voters in the district without representation in Congress for months and forced a redo of that election.
Then there was the ballyhooed commission requested by President Trump to uncover supposed widespread fraud during the 2016 election. After finding little to nothing to support that claim, the commission quietly disbanded.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, Republicans blocked bills in the Senate that would deal with a very legitimate threat to election security. The legislation would have required campaigns to report offers of foreign election assistance to the FBI, and for campaigns to report such overtures to the Federal Election Commission.
So, it’s hard to take N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore seriously when he gallantly pledges to keep fighting the good fight.
“North Carolina voters know that General Assembly leaders will continue to fight on their behalf for a common sense voter ID law that they chose to put in our state constitution,” Moore said in a news release, “and we will not be deterred by judicial attempts to suppress the people’s voice in the democratic process.”
Moore’s use of the verb “suppress” was both brazen and ironic. It’s a familiar strategy in the GOP playbooks to suppress voting through gerrymandering and other tactics. Remember, a previous state voter ID law, nixed by the courts in 2016, was voided by a federal court that found it had targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”
By now, Moore ought to know: This dog won’t hunt. The GOP should stop its barking on this trumped-up issue and move on.