A pivotal legal challenge to North Carolina’s much-criticized Voter ID law has cleared its last hurdle for trial.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder on Friday denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case, which has been led by civil rights activists such as the N.C. NAACP and the Advancement Project, a coalition of civil rights attorneys.
The ruling was not unexpected. It follows a similar decision made in a separate claim against the law last month.
The groups are arguing in court that the 2013 voter reforms will have the effect of reducing minority voting when it goes into effect next year, although GOP supporters have claimed the reforms are intended to reduce voter fraud.
State lawyers contended that the case should be dismissed due to revisions made this year that would allow voters without proper identification to cast a provisional ballot. Nope, said Schroeder. The case is expected to go to trial in January.
“Even with the changes, and after nearly two years of telling voters they would need the narrowly prescribed photo ID to vote, North Carolina officials have yet to articulate their strategy for educating the public, poll workers and other state officials on what is needed to vote,” said attorney Irving Joyner, who is representing the challengers. “As a result, the people of North Carolina are left in legislative limbo by not knowing the rules for voting as well as the options available ahead of a March 2016 primary and the general election.”
Meanwhile, the Rev. William Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP, again stated that the voter ID would impose an “undue and unlawful burden on voters of color.”
Voting rights advocates continue to await a decision on the other provisions of the controversial law, which includes a reduction in early voting times and an end to same-day registration and voting. The two sides argued over those provisions in July.