Voter ID upheld, appeal filed

RALEIGH (AP) — Civil rights and elections attorneys said Tuesday they will appeal a federal court ruling upholding North Carolina’s 2013 major rewrite of its voting laws, a decision that marks at least a temporary victory for another state that requires photo identification to vote.

This week’s ruling came after two trials since July and 20,000 pages of court-filed documents. It rejected arguments by the state NAACP, the U.S. Justice Department, churches and individuals that the election changes approved by the GOP-led General Assembly disproportionately harmed minority voters.

Critics had sued, alleging that North Carolina’s revised voting law was passed to discriminate against poor and minority voters in violation of the Constitution and U.S. Voting Rights Act. While North Carolina has “significant, shameful past discrimination” that extended to voting, the plaintiffs didn’t show the law made it harder for minority voters to cast ballots compared to other groups, the judge ruled.

“North Carolina has provided legitimate state interests for its voter ID requirement and electoral system,” U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder wrote in Monday’s decision, siding with the state’s Republican-led legislature.

It marked a legal win for one of the 30 states that currently have some kind of voter ID rule now in force. Nineteen have a photo ID mandate, according to the ruling.

“We’ve advocated all along that the commonsense voter ID and election integrity reforms that we passed in the General Assembly were constitutional,” said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett. He helped guide the 2013 law through the legislature and said it bolsters the integrity of the voting system.

Lawyers for the state NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and others filed notices Tuesday of plans to appeal the 485-page ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Some of the attorneys said Schroeder wrongly determined the provisions didn’t worsen the state’s historical bias against black voters.

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