Warren calls Justice Department suit ‘frivolous,’ confident in questioned provisions

SALISBURY — The author of the state’s controversial Voter ID law, N.C. Rep. Harry Warren of Salisbury, said the four provisions targeted by a federal lawsuit aren’t “going anywhere.”

The Justice Department announced its plans Monday to file suit against the state of North Carolina for alleged racial discrimination in tough new voting rules.

Warren said the legal challenge was expected and he is confident the four provisions that were targeted will be upheld.

The provisions include: cutting early voting days, required photo ID, eliminating same-day voter registration and eliminating the counting of provisional ballots by voters who cast ballots in their home counties but do not vote in the correct precincts.

“We anticipated that,” Warren said of the suit. “What’s important for the people of North Carolina to know — North Carolina is still considered in the political world to be a swing state. Ever since Republicans were voted into office and into a position of control of this state, the Democratic Party and liberal faction have put forth a concerted effort to get control of this state.”

Legislation out of Raleigh this year, Warren said, has been distorted by political slant. He sees the litigation as a similar tactic.

“I would prefer that the federal government spend a little more money working on the economy and illegal immigration instead of pandering over these frivolous lawsuits on voter rights.”

North Carolina is one of at least five southern states adopting stricter voter ID and election laws. Republican lawmakers insist the measures are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

But in a press conference Monday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said state lawmakers intentionally violated the civil rights of North Carolinians by disenfranchising voters.

During a Washington press conference, Holder said the new elections law “is an intentional step to break a system that was working, and it defies common sense.”

Warren, who spoke to the Post prior to the press conference, said some of the provisions, like the early voting reduction, are still better than other states.

Warren argued the law, which would cut seven days from the early voting period, would open all voting precincts at the same times.

“It’s actually more equitable. What we’re doing is requiring all early voting precincts to be open uniformly and equally,” Warren said, noting that Rowan County has previously had staggered early voting sites. “That complaint is going to go nowhere. There’s about 18 states who don’t have early voting, including New York, which jumped all over us for cutting it back.”

When asked about the photo ID requirement, Warren cited other states, like Georgia, as comparable situations that have been permitted.

“There’s more than 30 to 34 states that have some sort of Voter ID in place now. At least 12 to 15 require a photo ID,” Warren said. “They’ve already been court tested — some of them have been court tested — and not found to be restrictive. That one’s not going to go anywhere either.”

In North Carolina, a recent state board of elections survey found that hundreds of thousands of registered voters did not have a state-issued ID. Many of those voters are young, black, poor or elderly.

But Warren said he worked with the Department of Motor Vehicles and other state departments to refine the search — knocking the lacking 600,000 or so voters down to about 140,000.

Using possible addresses and dates of birth, Warren said, reduced the estimated 600,000 voter number significantly. Warren said he doesn’t know how many out of the estimated 140,000 have an alternative ID form outside of a driver’s license.

“This is not a valid number,” he said.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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