Hans von Spakovsky, in a recent article written for the Heritage Foundation, lays out the facts surrounding the lawsuits that would roll back North Carolina’s election reform legislation implemented in 2014. The three week hearing into VIVA (Voter Information Verification Act) ended on Friday, July 31. It is likely to take weeks for U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder to return his decision.
In the article, titled Election Reform in North Carolina and the Myth of Voter Suppression, von Spakovsky describes the main provisions of VIVA implemented in 2014. He includes a great timeline of the preliminary injunction hearing held in 2014 and also describes the law’s opponents’ characterization of the legislation and their unsubstantiated claims:
“In three separate lawsuits in federal district court, more than a dozen organizations, including the North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and the U.S. Department of Justice, sued North Carolina. Ultimately, the cases were combined into one proceeding. The plaintiffs challenged provisions of H.B. 589 under the non-discrimination requirements of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits the implementation of voting standards, practices, or procedures that deny citizens the right to vote on account of their race. The plaintiffs also asserted claims under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
These claims have turned out to be completely wrong. There has been no “suppression” of the turnout of North Carolina voters by any of these reform measures; in fact, turnout increased in the 2014 election—a sharp contrast to the rest of the country, which experienced a significant downturn in election turnout when compared to the previous midterm congressional election.”
Using a number of resources to make his case, including statistics from the State Board of Elections, articles from WRAL (NC Voter Turnout Sets Mid Term Record) and the Wall Street Journal (The Voter Suppression Myth takes Another Hit) and even testimony from an expert witness called by the plaintiffs:
 “It should be noted that a number of studies have concluded that early voting actually hurts turnout: “the most popular reform—early voting—is actually associated with lower turnout” because it is responsible for “reducing the civic significance of elections for individuals and altering the incentives for political campaigns to invest in mobilization.” Barry C. Burden et al., “Election Laws, Mobilization, and Turnout: The Unanticipated Consequences of Election Reform,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 58, No.1 (January 2014), p. 95.”
The article’s conclusion was simple and direct:
“As a result of North Carolina’s changes in its election laws, including the elimination of same-day registration and the reduction in early voting, not only did turnout not decrease as opponents, including the U.S. Department of Justice, had predicted it would, but turnout actually went up. There was no “voter suppression.” In fact, the increase in turnout of minority voters was higher than the increase in turnout of white voters. It is clear that the claims made against North Carolina’s election reform law are unwarranted and that the pending court challenge to the state’s election reform bill should be rejected.”
—Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He is a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice and the coauthor of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter, 2012) and Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department (HarperCollins/Broadside, 2014).
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