Federal Judge Blocks North Carolina Voter ID Law

RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – A federal district court announced Thursday that a preliminary injunction will be issued next week to block North Carolina from requiring residents to provide a photo identification to vote next year.

Unless an appeal is successful, U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs will block the law requiring North Carolinians to show photo ID at the polls during the state’s March 3 primary.

During the November 2018 midterm elections, North Carolina voters passed a Republican-supported ballot measure that amended the state Constitution, adding a photo ID requirement.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation that enacted it, but Republicans in the General Assembly swiftly used their super majorities to override that veto during a lame-duck session.

On Dec. 20, 2018, the NAACP sued to stop the law that 55% of the state’s voters had approved. State and local chapters of the organization filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Sept. 17, asking the court to enjoin the voter ID provisions of SB 824, which the court on Thursday announced it plans to grant.

The organization says the law violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

“This is a long-fought-for victory against voter suppression and for equal access to the ballot in this state,” said Rev. Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.

In addition, the group expressed concerns that the law is discriminatory and would create unnecessary barriers for those hoping to cast a ballot in 2020—when the law was set to be implemented.

The state’s Republican Party released a statement that deemed this ruling to be “another example of judges legislating from the bench.”

“This action, if it is allowed to stand, will invalidate the votes of millions of North Carolinians who voted overwhelmingly to implement voter ID and strengthen the integrity of N.C. elections,” said Jeff Hauser, spokesman for the state’s Republican Party in a statement on Friday.

The party said blocking the law would “invalidate” the votes that were cast in 2018. Next week, Judge Biggs will release an order explaining the decision.

On January 14, 2019, the President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate and the Speaker of the North Carolina House moved to intervene in opposition to the NAACP’s 2018 challenge, but that was denied in June. After several attempts, they filed a motion for stay in the Court of Appeals on Sept. 26.

The State Board of Elections and the Governor filed separate motions in February to dismiss the case in the federal court.

Five months later, the court denied the State Election Board’s motion and granted the Governor’s motion to be dismissed from the case.

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