Federal judge refuses to block North Carolina voter law

Federal judge refuses to block North Carolina voter law

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court Middle District of North Carolina [official website] on Friday rejected [opinion, PDF] preliminary relief in the form of an injunction against a new voter law [HB 589, PDF] in North Carolina. The law will require voters to show a picture ID at the polls by 2016, but other changes are already in effect and were at issue in the case, including a seven-day reduction of the state’s early-voting period; the elimination of registration and voting on the same day during early voting; a ban on provisional ballots and a program that allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register in anticipation of coming elections. The legislation followed a 2013 Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] that struck down Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act [text].

Debate over voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] has sparked continuing controversy in the US. In April a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Wisconsin’s Act 23 [text, PDF], which requires residents to present photo ID to vote, violates the Voting Rights Act and the US Constitution. Also that month the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court [official website] upheld its earlier decision striking down [JURIST report] Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. Earlier in April a judge for the Pulaski County Circuit Court for the 6th Division [official website] struck down [JURIST report] an Arkansas voter ID law, finding that it violates the state constitution.