92-Year-Old Voter Sues North Carolina

After 70 years of voter participation, Rosanell Eaton faces obstacles under the state's new voter ID laws.

Posted: 08/14/2013 03:45 PM EDT

(Photo: Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/LANDOV) 

After becoming one of the first African-American voters in the county of Louisburg in North Carolina, Rosanell Eaton, now 92, once again confronts obstacles that abridge her right to vote under the new voter ID law signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Eaton, along with the NAACP, is suing the state under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on race.

Under the new North Carolina law, a voter ID card will be required at the voting booths. For Eaton, the name on her birth certificate is different from the name on her driver’s license and voter registration card. Reconciling the name-difference will be too much of a timely and costly burden for Eaton. After 70 years of voter participation, she may no longer qualify to vote in North Carolina.

The law also eliminates same-day registration, early registration for high school students in advance of their 18th birthday and cuts down the early voting period – which Eaton has participated in since it was instituted in the state.

“Here I am at 92 years old doing the same battling,” she told a crown at a NAACP event. “I have registered over 4,000 citizens in the state and at it again, alongside Republicans’ efforts to eliminate and cut early voting. … We need more, not less, public access to the ballot…At the age of 92, I am fed up and fired up.”

Additional lawsuits have been filed by the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to target provisions that suppress early voting and registration.

While the Justice Department has not yet responded to this case, Attorney General Eric Holder argued that a similar Texas law violates sections of the Voting Rights Act.

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