On March 3, a U.S. District Court Magistrate ruled that opponents of North Carolina’s 2013 voting restrictions must reveal internal government messages for the period August 12, 2013, to the present, that were between the Governor’s Office, the State Board of Elections, and legislators. The order came in the combined lawsuits filed by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking to overturn 2013 changes in the voting process. Specifically, the plaintiffs are challenging the reduction in early voting days, the loss of same-day voter registration, and the elimination of out-of-precinct provisional voting.
The state argued that the messages between these branches of state government for the period after August 12, 2013, are irrelevant to the lawsuit, because the bill that made those election law changes (HB 589) had been signed that day. The state had already agreed to reveal such messages made prior to August 12, 2013. But the court ruled that the messages for the period after the bill was signed might be just as relevant to the lawsuit as the earlier messages.
The reason the internal government messages are relevant to the lawsuit is that the plaintiffs are trying to show that the 2013 changes were motivated by a desire to discriminate against certain kinds of voters. The lawsuit argues that the changes violate the federal Voting Rights Act, and the 14th amendment. The lawsuit is North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v McCrory, middle district, 1:13cv-658. See this story.