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July 17, 2018

Court Ruling Could Affect Turnout, Outcome of NC Elections

A federal court struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law and other changes put into place by lawmakers in 2013. The decision means voters will not be required to provide photo ID at the polls this November.

Mary Klenz, co-president with the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, said Friday’s ruling left little room for interpretation regarding the law’s constitutionality.

“They give us a clear message that politicians have no business standing in the way of our right to vote,” Klenz said. “We’re grateful to the court of appeals for seeing this bill for what it was.”

The decision also restored voters’ ability to register on Election Day and pre-register before their 18th birthday. Also restored were the original seven-day early voting period and allowances for out-of-precinct voting. According to Klenz, the resulting votes could affect the outcome of close races this fall.

In their opinion, the court said, “We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history,”

Allison Riggs with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and attorney representing the plaintiffs, expressed satisfaction with the ruling.

“That is huge, so this was not a close call,” Riggs said. “It’s a really, really solid ruling. We celebrate this ruling, mostly for what it means for North Carolina voters. This means that North Carolina is going to continue on its path of opening participation in the political process. We’re not going to be restricting it.”

Klenz said while she and other proponents of voting rights are pleased with the ruling, it’s hard to forget the effort it took to defeat the legislation.

“It’s a stain on democracy, and I don’t know why we have to keep going through this,” Klenz said. “It takes our time, it takes our money, it takes resources – it takes money from the state.”

A similar law in Wisconsin also was overturned on Friday. Supporters of the Voter ID law in the North Carolina Legislature had said the laws were necessary to reduce voter fraud.

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