A major victory for voting rights in North Carolina today: A federal appeals court in Richmond has struck down the state’s 2013 voter ID law. The decision reverses a lower court’s April ruling that upheld the law.
In an opinion issued today, a three-judge panel found that “the photo ID requirement, the reduction in days of early voting, and the elimination of same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration…were enacted with racially discriminatory intent in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and § 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”
In other words: Moving forward, there will be no photo ID requirements, and many of the rights taken away by the 2013 law—a week of early voting, preregistration, same-day registration, out-of-precinct provisional voting—will be restored.
Representing the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, North Carolina Common Cause, Unifour Onestop Collaborative, and other individuals, the ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed the lawsuit against the state in 2013, alleging discrimination against African-American voters.
In a release, Dale Ho, of the ACLUS’s Voting Rights Project, says: “With surgical precision, North Carolina tried to eliminate voting practices disproportionately used by African-Americans. This ruling is a stinging rebuke of the state’s attempt to undermine African-American voter participation, which had surged over the last decade.”
The state could appeal this decision to the full bench of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (today’s ruling comes from a three-judge panel) or to the U.S. Supreme Court. But any reversal of today’s decision is unlikely to occur before the elections in November.
UPDATE: Phil Berger and Tim Moore respond:
“Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election. We will obviously be appealing this politically-motivated decision to the Supreme Court.”
Read the full opinion here. It is actually a pretty good read.