The Advancement Project, in a press release dated August 21, announced that the North Carolina NAACP was appealing U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder’s decision earlier this month to deny a preliminary injunction to block certain provisions of VIVA in the November 2014 election. VIVA, the Voter Identification Verification Act which opponents of the legislation call House Bill 589, was passed into law and signed by the Governor in 2013. Schroeder’s decision to deny the preliminary injunction came on August 8 of this year, less than a month after closing arguments in the preliminary injunction hearing.
Specifically, the plaintiffs were seeking to block the shortened early voting period, the elimination of same-day registration (SDR) and the elimination of out-of-precinct voting on Election Day. The majority of the provisions of VIVA became effective either at the time the bill was signed or on January 1, 2014 and implemented for the May 2014 primary; however, the voter ID requirement does not go into effect until January 2016.
The appeal was filed by the progressive Advancement Project, funded by George Soros‘ Open Society Foundation and based in Washington D.C., along with the international law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP w headquartered in Chicago. Joining the Advancement Project and Kirkland & Ellis were North Carolina lawyers Adam Stein (father of Senator Josh Stein (D-Wake) and Irving Joyner, a professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law who made a name for himself working as the NAACP’s designated case monitor for the infamous Duke Lacrosse case .
The press release included a quote from William Barber, President of the NC NAACP and de facto leader of the progressive state Democratic Party and spokesperson for the radical leftist movement in North Carolina. In part, Barber said:
“Moreover, it is a moral issue that we are committed to protecting with every tool at our disposal. The franchise was won through the blood, sweat and tears of courageous people who sacrificed to make real the promise of democracy. If one person’s right to vote is denied or abridged this election, this democracy suffers”.
Barber’s quote goes on but fails to mention that, while the May 2014 Primary Election was the first election where the challenged provisions were implemented, the overall turnout increased and African-Americans voted in significantly higher numbers than they did in the comparable primary of 2010. In fact, African-American turnout increased by nearly 30 percent in 2014 compared to 2010. Overall turnout increased by 5 percent, with 147,700 more voters voting in 2014 than in 2010.
According to the press release Penda Hair, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, co-director of the Advancement Project and the former director of the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said:
“The plaintiffs believe we met the standard for preliminary injunction against HB589. The evidence shows that African-American voters are disproportionately impacted by this law. When someone is denied their vote in an election, they forever lose that opportunity to have their say – that is irreparable harm. Any votes that are prevented in this election are votes that will be forever lost, which is why we are appealing the court’s decision.”
Hair’s opinion on the plaintiff’s performance during the hearing was in stark contrast to Judge Schroeder’s. In his decision, he said that the groups failed to show they would suffer “irreparable harm.”
“In the absence of the clear showing for preliminary relief required by the law, it is inappropriate for a federal court to enjoin a state law passed by duly-elected representatives,” he wrote.
The case now goes to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. It’s worth noting that there are about ten weeks until Election Day (November 4) , roughly sixty days until one-stop early voting begins and less than 25 days until the first absentee ballot is mailed.
The trial on the entire law’s legality is scheduled for July 2015.