Next year's presidential election will mark the first time North Carolina voters must show photo ID before casting their ballots. The state's colleges and universities are supposed to ease this obstacle for their students — but many may not act in time.
More than two dozen schools, with a combined enrollment of 54,000, have yet to ask permission for their student identification cards to count as an approved proof of residency. And the cutoff for applying to the state Board of Elections is Saturday.
Thirteen schools with 170,000 students, including some of the biggest in the state, have had their ID card designs rejected and have only three weeks to come up with an alternative.
That so many students would have their potential to vote put in limbo by this bureaucratic tardiness is an alarming turn in a state where the Republican power structure has long been at the center of allegations of voter suppression of a group that normally turns out heavily for Democrats.
A 36-year-old attorney, Kat Calvin founded Spread the Vote after the 2016 election. She said the results that year convinced her that the Supreme Court's striking down of the preclearance requirements under the Voting Rights Act has led to a wave of voter suppression across the country. Her answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
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Spread The Vote helps people obtain the government-issued photo identification cards required for voting in many states.
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Is a central piece of the Missouri voter identification law in line with the state's constitution? The Missouri Supreme Court is on course to deciding.
The provision at issue permits those who arrive at the polls without a photo ID to substitute another form of identification, like a utility bill, and then sign an affidavit saying they are who they purport to be — under penalty of perjury.
The justices heard arguments last week on a challenge brought by Priorities USA, a Democratic-aligned voting rights group, which says the language on the affidavit is so vague and confusing that it results in a form of unconstitutional voter suppression. A lower court agreed.
A law compelling Iowans to present a valid ID before voting, and another requiring a voter identification number on every absentee ballot request, have survived a court challenge.
But the same state judge who upheld those measures this week, Joseph Seidlin, also struck down two other provisions of a package enacted in 2017 in the name of combatting election fraud. One would have barred the use of an Iowa driver's license or state identification card to get a voter ID. The other would have allowed local election officials to block a voter if they believed in-person and on-file signatures didn't match.
The lawsuit was brought by the Hispanic civil rights group LULAC and an Iowa State University student and financed by the Democratic campaign group Priorities USA, who said all four provisions would suppress turnout and disenfranchise people — especially Latinos, who vote absentee in big numbers in a politically purple state that will have six hotly contested electoral votes next year.
"The evidence presented simply did not demonstrate that the burden on young voters, old voters, female voters, minority voters, poor voters and voters who are Democrats to show an approved form of identification at the polls is appreciably greater than the rest of the population," the judge said.