North Carolina NAACP sues to stop Republican-backed voter ID law

(Reuters) - North Carolina’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against a voter identification law enacted a day earlier by the state’s lame-duck Republican-dominated legislature.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina under the Voting Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which govern the conditions under which people are defined as citizens and allowed to vote, according to the civil rights organization.

“This is a brazen effort by a lame-duck, usurper legislature to once again legislate voter suppression,” Irv Joyner, Legal Redress Chair of the NC NAACP, said in a statement.

“This law is designed to suppress the votes of people of color. The federal courts have seen through this legislature’s attempts to do this before and we are confident that they will see through this current attempt, as well.”

The NAACP was part of a group that in 2016 successfully challenged North Carolina’s prior attempt to require a photo ID to be able to vote.

Republican lawmakers in several states have passed a series of last-minute laws following Democratic wins in November’s elections, including in North Carolina. Democrats have castigated the efforts as power grabs, while Republicans have said they are simply doing their jobs.

North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the Republican-authored bill on Dec. 14 on grounds it would suppress minority votes while supposedly addressing a problem - in-person voting fraud - that did not exist.

In overriding Cooper’s veto on Wednesday, Republican state lawmakers defended the law as a common-sense measure to make elections secure.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice also filed a lawsuit in state court immediately after the regulation became law on Wednesday.

“Any legislative scheme that requires voters to present ID when voting must have fail-safe measures to ensure that not one single eligible voter is disenfranchised,” Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the coalition, said in a statement.

“This legislation does not do that.”

The state’s NAACP is seeking that the court declare that the requirement violates federal law and keep it from taking effect.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall