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Voter ID Blocked for Primary

A federal judge has slammed a hold on North Carolina’s voter ID law — at least for the March 3 primaries.

U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of North Carolina Loretta Biggs issued a preliminary injunction against the planned implementation of the voter photo identification requirement on the last day of December. Judge Biggs found in her injunction order that the court challengers of the law (the State Chapter of the NAACP and several of its local chapters) had shown that they were likely to prevail in their argument that the law was unconstitutional because it was motivated at least in part by racially discriminatory intent.

Judge Biggs wrote, “The preliminary evidence demonstrates a clear likelihood that Plaintiffs will establish that discrimination was behind the law: S.B. 824 was enacted against a backdrop of recurring state-sanctioned racial discrimination and voter suppression efforts — both in the far and more recent past — and the state’s polarized electorate presents the opportunity to exploit race for partisan gain.”

Despite the urging of Republican legislative leaders who demanded an immediate appeal of Judge Biggs’ ruling, state Attorney General Josh Stein said the State of North Carolina will not appeal the ruling until after the primary, “to avoid further voter confusion … and to ensure that the primary election proceeds on schedule and is administered in an orderly fashion.” Stein noted that absentee voting begins in less than two weeks.

Further court proceedings in the case are expected prior to the fall general election, and the outcome could include a final ruling that could be heard on appeal in federal court. Voting rights advocates will almost certainly continue to urge Stein’s office to accept a ruling against the voter ID law, without seeking further review on behalf of the state.

Environmental advocates oppose voter suppression efforts, including photo ID requirements, as unnecessary and likely to reduce voter participation. Active, broad voter participation in elections is essential to holding polluters, lawmakers, and government agencies accountable for their actions.

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