Voters won’t need to show ID at the polls this fall thanks to a ruling by the North Carolina Superior Court, which found that the state’s Republican-backed law unconstitutionally targets Black voters. 

The 2-1 majority opinion from the court issued Friday blocks the law from affecting the upcoming municipal election. Defendants, the GOP’s House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Phil Berger, stated they intend to appeal the decision. 

The more than 100-page decision places a permanent injunction on the state’s voter ID law finding it “was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters,” and is “in violation of the North Carolina constitutional prohibitions on intentional discrimination.” 

Senate Bill 824 was pushed through by a Republican supermajority and approved via state referendum in 2018. Republican lawmakers had previously enacted a voter ID law in 2013, along with a series of other rollbacks to voting changes intended to expand African American access to the polls, that courts struck down three years later, finding that those laws “targeted African American voters with almost surgical precision.” 

The latest ruling is a victory for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented the plaintiffs. 

“Today’s ruling striking down North Carolina’s latest unconstitutional photo voter ID law is a testament to the overwhelming evidence, including compelling stories of disenfranchisement from voters themselves, which highlighted how the state’s Republican-controlled legislature undeniably implemented this legislation to maintain its power by targeting voters of color,” Attorney Allison Riggs said in a statement. “We applaud the three-judge panel’s decision and hope it sends a strong message that racial discrimination will not be tolerated. Should legislative defendants appeal today’s ruling, we’ll be prepared to remind them of what this court and the state’s constitution mandate: every vote matters.” 

Sam Hayes, General Counsel for Moore, criticized the “liberal judges’” decisions as having “defied the will of North Carolinians on election integrity.”

“At trial, Plaintiffs could not produce a single witness who would be unable to vote because of the law,” Hayes said in a statement. “This fight is far from over. We look forward to appealing this partisan ruling on behalf of the people of North Carolina.” 

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