Lawyers Democracy Fund has filed an amicus brief in Holmes v. Moore in support of Senate Bill 824, North Carolina’s photo identification law for in-person voting.
In 2018, North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to require photo ID for in-person voting. The North Carolina General Assembly then enacted Senate Bill 824 with bipartisan support to implement the constitutional requirement.
However, despite a significant majority of North Carolina voters supporting photo ID requirements and zero evidence that North Carolina’s law was passed with discriminatory intent, a panel of judges at the trial level struck down the law as unconstitutional.
In its amicus, LDF put forth three arguments as to why the North Carolina Court of Appeals should uphold North Carolina’s photo ID law:
- North Carolina, like every state, has a legitimate interest in enacting Photo ID legislation to protect the franchise and secure elections,
- The Photo ID law enacted by North Carolina is more flexible than other state Photo ID laws that have been routinely upheld in state and federal court, and
- Because the trial court struck down North Carolina’s Photo ID law, an unavoidable conflict now exists due to the still-existing constitutional requirement that voters present Photo ID to vote in person.
On the first issue, LDF highlighted how North Carolina’s photo ID law serves as a meaningful election integrity safeguard to protect the franchise without limiting voter access:
Photo ID requirements, especially with reasonable accommodations for hardships, are an easy means of verifying identity. They are also the strongest, prophylactic defense against illegal impersonation fraud, voting under fictitious registrations, double-voting by people registered in multiple states, and voting by non-citizens, as people who consider engaging in such crimes know that they would not be able to cast illegal ballots because they would be asked to verify their identity at the polls. Clearly, North Carolina had a legitimate interest in enacting SB824.
On the second issue, LDF compared North Carolina’s photo ID law to those in other states that have been upheld in state and federal courts to showcase just how lenient North Carolina’s photo ID law is and to explain why it should not have been struck down:
Since Crawford, numerous state-level Photo ID laws have been upheld despite having tighter regulations than SB824…The Photo ID laws in [Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Alabama] and their associated court challenges demonstrate that SB824 is consistent with, and generally more permissive than other states’ whose Photo ID legislation were ruled constitutional. In fact, the Majority’s decision below is wholly contrary to Crawford and its progeny.
On the third issue, LDF presented the conflict the lower court created by striking down North Carolina’s photo ID law, especially when the state constitution and well-settled rules of constitutional interpretation weigh in favor of its validity:
[T]he trial court’s order places the constitution at odds with itself, effectively depriving the legislature of any way to implement the Photo ID Clause on the basis of a separate constitutional mandate for equal protection.
Ultimately, LDF’s amicus contends that North Carolina’s photo ID law is far more permissive than several photo ID statutes across the country that have survived legal challenges in state and federal court and that the trial court violated foundational principles of constitutional interpretation to strike it down.
To read LDF’s amicus in its entirety, click here.
To read LDF’s in-depth analysis of Senate Bill 824, click here.