ROCKINGHAM — Reaction in Richmond County to a court ruling on the state’s voter ID law Friday ranged from joy to judicial outrage.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked North Carolina’s controversial voter ID law, saying it violated the Constitution and Voting Rights Act by unfairly targeting black voters.
“This is incredibly huge!” the Rev. Dian Griffin Jackson said in a text message to the Daily Journal Friday afternoon. “For the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals to strike down our state’s voting restrictions and voter ID law affirms for me that our nation acknowledges and affirms that the foundations of our constitutions (state and federal) was intentional in their insistence that ‘we the people’ matter.”
Jackson said it was unfortunate that the process had to take more than a year and a half, but added that she is now filled with hope that the state can move forward with the interests of all residents at heart, not just a few.
“I’m appalled that our governor and legislative bodies, along with our state’s supreme court, did not have the prophetic wisdom to know or to care that these rulings would be unjust, unequal and almost criminal in the attempt to rewrite and disenfranchise a whole segment of the population,” she continued.
The law went into effect this year and was enforced during the primary election in March.
Both Connie Kelly, county elections director, and Carlton Hawkins, secretary of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said there were not any issues regarding compliance with the new law.
There were several people who did not have the required identification, but were allowed to fill out a provisional ballot, Kelly said.
“As a Democrat on the Richmond County Board of Elections, I don’t have a problem with it being struck down,” Hawkins said. “It will probably help people in the long run throughout the state.”
However, board Chairman A.B. Brown said, “It’s a sad day.”
“The elected representatives of the state of North Carolina passed that law,” he said. “We now have judicial tyranny, where these liberal activist judges make the laws of our land, not our elected representatives.”
Brown went on to complain that these are the same judges who kicked Christianity out of the public schools, while allowing the teaching of humanism and evolution, not creationism.
“We are one humanist activist justice away from being completely controlled by humanist justices on the Supreme Court level,” he continued. “The Constitution will no longer have any meaning, whatsoever.”
Kelly said that the local board would wait for guidance from the N.C. State Board of Elections, which came just after 3 p.m.
“Our agency is carefully reviewing today’s decision from the Fourth Circuit,” Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the state board said in a statement. “Absent alternative guidance from the courts, voters will not be asked to show photo identification this election.
“Counsel for the state are reviewing options on appeal,” she continued. “Regardless of the outcome, our agency will continue to educate voters and prepare elections officials ahead of November.”
Jackson, who has railed against the law, extended her thanks to state NAACP head the Rev. William Barber, his contingency of lawyers and marchers across the state “for trusting the system to see the error of our legislature’s laws and uphold the constitutionality of our state’s (voting rights act.)”
“Because of them,” she said, “my little 10-year-old granddaughter can live in a progressive North Carolina.”
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.