By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, July 30, 2016, US Representative Terri Sewell (D-Selma) called the federal appeals court ruling striking down the state of North Carolina’s voter ID law a great victory for American Democracy.
Congresswoman Sewell said in a statement, “The court ruling by the 4th Circuit on Friday striking down North Carolina’s voter ID law is a great victory for American democracy. As a strong advocate for equal access to the ballot box, I have been a vocal opponent of voter photo ID laws because of their discriminatory impact on certain vulnerable communities. The court ruling expressly validates this concern by finding that the new provisions in the North Carolina voting law ‘target African Americans with almost surgical precision.’ Likewise, the court panel noted the state’s motivation of reducing fraud ‘impose cures for problems that did not exist.”’
Rep. Sewell continued, “The 4th Circuit’s decision is consistent with other recent findings by courts in Texas and Wisconsin, which also note that voters, particularly in minority communities, would be adversely harmed by changes to voting rights laws in those states. These decisions once again underscore the importance of the need for federal preclearance for changes to voting practices and procedures that could have a discriminatory impact.”
Rep. Sewell said, “As the 2016 Presidential Election cycle continues, it is critically important that we recognize and defend against any attempts to create modern day barriers to the ballot box that disenfranchise the most vulnerable members of our community. Instead of making voting more difficult, we should be working to ensure that every American citizen is able to exercise their constitutionally protected right.”
Alabama’s only Democrat in Congress concluded, “As Co-Chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, I will continue to urge my colleagues in Congress to enact meaningful legislation to restore the vote such as HR2867: The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, a bill I introduced to create a modern day coverage formula to fully restore the federal protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We should all strive to ensure that our right to vote is fair and inclusive for all citizens. As such, the recent ruling in North Carolina sets a very important precedent.”
On Friday, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina’s voter identification law on Friday, saying its provisions deliberately “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls.
The 83-page decision by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit could affect voter ID laws in a number of states as we approach the November 8 election. The court also held that the ballots of people who had mistakenly voted at the wrong polling stations should be deemed valid.
It is not known at this time if the ruling will impact Alabama’s voter ID law.
Voters in Alabama must present a valid photo ID. If you do not have a valid photo ID, your local Board of Registrars can provide you with a free voter ID. Contact the Alabama Secretary of State’s office for assistance or for more information. Forms of photo ID accepted at the polls include valid: driver’s license; Alabama photo voter ID card; state issued ID (any state); federal issued ID; US passport; employee ID from Federal Government, State of Alabama, County, Municipality, Board, or other entity of this state; student or employee ID from a public or private college or university in the State of Alabama (including postgraduate technical or professional schools); Military ID; or Tribal ID.
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.