N.C. Election Case is Another Front in a Bigger Battle

A supporter of the North Carolina NAACP holds stickers for those gathered in the House chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
A supporter of the North Carolina NAACP holds stickers for those gathered in the House chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
A supporter of the North Carolina NAACP holds stickers for those gathered in the House chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (The Washington Post) — “Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in 2013, when the Supreme Court freed Southern states from the requirement that federal authorities approve any proposed election-law change in order to ensure minority voters were not harmed.

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina appeared to take that as a go signal; they immediately unveiled a previously private plan to overhaul the state’s voting procedures.

A 14-page bill that would require voters to show specific kinds of identification was replaced with a 57-page omnibus package. It rolled back or repealed a number of voting procedures that civil rights leaders say had made the state a leader in increasing African American voter turnout. It was approved along party lines.

What is known as House Bill 589 has been the subject of court battles ever since. A federal trial nearing completion here on the state’s changes is being watched nationwide for signals about what the Voting Rights Act of 1965 still means after the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision two years ago inShelby County v. Holder.

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