‘We’re Still Very Early in the Game’: Why NC GOP’s Voter ID Win Doesn’t Settle Legal Case

House Speaker Tim Moore in a 2020 press conference with Gov. Roy Cooper.

By Max Millington

December 4, 2020

A senior counsel with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice talks the next steps in the long-running legal battle over voter ID in NC.

On Dec. 1, claims of voter fraud made by President Trump and several members of the GOP were debunked by Attorney General William Barr. 

But the battle over election laws persists. A day later, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously reversed a decision to enjoin North Carolina’s voter ID law, a long-running Republican wishlist item created ostensibly to combat voter fraud.

Critics point out voter fraud is very rare and that it might chiefly obstruct voting for people who tend to vote Democratic. But House Speaker Tim Moore said in on Twitter this week that voter ID should be implemented in time for the next election. Moore seemed to allude to widely debunked claims of fraud by President Donald Trump when he said the 2020 elections only bolstered the case for voter ID.

In September, Cardinal & Pine spoke to Hilary Harris Klein, an attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who was on the legal team that obtained the injunction which prevented the voter ID law from being enforced in this election season. 

In light of the new ruling, Cardinal & Pine spoke to Jeff Loperfido, a senior counsel for SCSJ’s voting rights group, to explain what NC voters need to know about voting laws now. 

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C&P: What was the outcome of the most recent Voter ID law case?

Loperfido: Not much has changed. The North Carolina Court of Appeals (separate from the US Court of Appeals) entered a preliminary injunction in February of this year, which also enjoined the law from being implemented. So the law is still not in effect. Now the appellate court in the federal court sent the matter back down, and both matters are proceeding forward to trial anyway. 

C&P: Is there any accuracy in the notion that this past election season is further evidence to support voter ID laws? 

Loperfido: The reality is voter ID limits a very certain type of potential troublemaking that can happen. Presenting an ID is so that a voter has to show that they are in fact who they say they are. That’s not the nature of the types of claims of election violations that have happened. 

In North Carolina (and the US), you’re not allowed to vote twice or vote if you have a felony and you’re still serving your sentence. Or if you’re not a US citizen, you can’t vote. A voter ID is not going to prevent a person who has any of those issues from going in person and voting. Voter ID doesn’t show your felony status, it doesn’t show your US citizenship status, it doesn’t show if you voted elsewhere in the state or if you voted in a different state. So the idea that voter ID would actually address some of the issues that have been claimed, with limited proof, as to impacting the election results … I think there’s sort of a mismatch there. 

C&P: We know that the public won’t be voting for anything anytime soon, so at this juncture, what does this all mean for NC voters?
Loperfido: I mean, the fight continues. The procedures that were in place for this 2020 election, where ID was not required will continue until some future date when one of these cases sort of reaches a full resolution on the merits. To use a sports analogy, we’re still very early in the game. I’d say we’re still in that in the first half, maybe the first quarter, given all the different legal avenues that these cases can take.


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