North Carolina bill seeks to end ‘one person, one vote’

Student IDs

The League of Women Voters and local voter advocacy group Babe Vote filed a lawsuit against Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane (R) challenging a newly enacted voter suppression law. House Bill 124, signed into law by Gov. Brad Little (R) earlier this month, eliminates the use of a student ID as an acceptable form of identification for in-person voting.

[T]hrough HB 124, the legislature imposed more stringent voting ID requirements that make voting less accessible and more difficult for young voters and specifically for Idaho students whose school IDs are no longer sufficient for voting.

HB 124 removed the option for voters to use their student IDs. Now, voters can vote in person only if they can present an Idaho drivers’ license or ID card, a U.S. passport or other identification issued by a federal agency, a tribal photo ID, or a concealed carry permit.

Notably, each of the now-permissible forms of voter ID cost the ID holder money to obtain; upon information and belief, student IDs were the only form of free photo ID that could be used to vote at the polls. Now, voters have no cost-free ID.

March for Our Lives and Rosaura Barron, an Idaho student, have separately sued Secretary of State McGrane in federal court, seeking to have House Bill 124 invalidated. “House Bill 124’s prohibition on the use of student identification to vote is a major escalation of [the] effort to suppress growing political activism by young Idahoans,” the lawsuit argues. “It is a surgical attack on Idaho’s young voters in response to their successful organizing efforts and increasing political power.”

This violates the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that voting rights “shall not be denied or abridged . . . by any State on account of age.” That broad language does more than simply lower the voting age to 18; it expressly prohibits election rules that discriminate against young voters on account of age. The Amendment was enacted at a time of increasing alienation of young Americans, whose exclusion from the political process was causing political unrest. As a result, the Amendment’s “goal was not merely to empower voting by our youths but was affirmatively to encourage their voting, through the elimination of unnecessary burdens and barriers, so that their vigor and idealism could be brought within rather than remain outside lawfully constituted institutions.” Worden v. Mercer Cnty. Bd. Of Elections, 61 N.J. 325, 345, 294 A.2d 233, 243 (1972).

One person, one vote

North Carolina House Republicans introduced legislation last week to end one person, one vote—potentially setting up a legal battle that could reach the conservative Supreme Court.

House Bill 376 would amend that state constitution to move away from the current scheme—mandated by the federal constitutional law—wherein each state senator represents an equal number of citizens. The new system proposed by the bill would have each senator represent two counties, no matter how many people live there. As a result, Wake county’s 1.15 million residents would have the same number of state senators as Tyrrell County, home to just 2,000 people.

State Rep. Jay Adams (R) sponsored the legislation, with seven other Republicans joining as co-sponsors. The bill is needed, Adams says, because densely-populated urban areas have more representatives than sparsely-populated rural areas, leading to what he calls an unfair advantage:

State Rep. Jay Adams says he wants to do something about the significant legislative advantage he sees that big counties and cities in North Carolina have over their less-populated neighbors… “Charlotte-Mecklenburg has an 18-member delegation [in the state House and Senate]. We have a 3-member delegation [in Catawba]. Mecklenburg and Wake counties have a huge advantage. I started to think about a better way of doing things.”

In an interview with North State Journal, Adams said the Senate districts would “mimic the federal Senate arrangement” where there are two senators for every state and then the representation in the House is by population. He later added, “Wyoming has a population of less than 600,000 but got two senators.” […] “So the further I thought about this, is it not a legitimate thing to think that each county government, all the municipalities in that county, the school boards, and everything — shouldn’t they get equivalent representation in the Senate? Is that an unreasonable thought?”

While the bill would undoubtedly be challenged in court if it passes both chambers, conservatives could be hoping for a positive outcome given the rightward swing of both the North Carolina Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

South Dakota

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed 12 election bills into law last week, including four that dramatically curtail voting and election procedures in the state:

  • Senate Bill 55: prohibits all political subdivisions of the state from adopting ranked choice voting
  • Senate Bill 113: Requires a petition to amend the state constitution be filed with the secretary of state at least a year before the general election.
  • Senate Bill 139: requires a person to have lived in the state for at least 30 days before registering to vote (in contrast, the state’s residency law only requires a person to spend one night in the state).
  • House Bill 1165: bans ballot drop boxes in all instances except a “secured and monitored receptacle or container at the office of the individual in charge of the election.”