McConnell denied that GOP voting changes were racist — but a NC law just got knocked down as discriminatory

McConnell denied that GOP voting changes were racist — but a NC law just got knocked down as discriminatory
Mitch McConnell, MSNBC

Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that the voting bills being passed or proposed by Republicans in state legislatures all around the United States are not racist. But on Friday, a state court in North Carolina dramatically undercut this claim by knocking down a law recently passed by the GOP on the grounds that it discriminated against African-Americans.

The Kentucky Republican, speaking on the Senate floor, attacked the voting rights bills Democrats have recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives as unnecessary, saying, "There is no rational basis for the federal government taking over how we conduct elections in this country." He noted he's been making this argument since the 2016 election.

After the 2020 election, fueled by Trump's debunked claims of voter fraud, Republicans have been trying to enact voting laws in the states where they control the legislatures that critics say curtail the right to vote and threaten to undermine democracy.

"What do all these new laws have in common?" McConnell asked. "None of them, not one, is designed to suppress the vote based upon race. There is no reason for the federal government to take over how we conduct elections. It is a solution in search of a problem, and we will not be supporting that."

But in North Carolina, a panel of judges issued a ruling showing how laws that may appear, at first glance, to not be about race can nevertheless intentionally discriminate based on race. The panel blocked the state's recent voter ID law, North Carolina Senate Bill 824, on the grounds that it discriminates against African-Americans. The law went into effect in late 2018 after the North Carolina State Legislature overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

CNBC reporter Dan Mangan explains, "Two judges on the panel said, in their majority opinion, that evidence shows the law, which requires voters to present a photo identification to cast a ballot, 'was enacted in part for a discriminatory purpose.' The decision in Wake County Superior Court also said that the law 'would not have been enacted in its current form but for its tendency to discriminate against African-American voters.' The ruling cited a 2015 analysis by a political scientist which showed that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in North Carolina potentially lacked ID that would qualify them to cast ballots under the law."

That 2015 analysis, Mangan notes, found that 9.6% of Black registered voters in North Carolina "lacked acceptable ID" compared to "4.5% of White registered voters."

North Carolina is among the southern states that had racist Jim Crow laws until the 1960s, and the panel of judges wrote, "North Carolina's unfortunate history of using voting laws to suppress minority political participation continues into the present."

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