[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina [official website] upheld [ruling, PDF] the state’s voter ID law on Monday. House Bill 589 [materials] requires that any “qualified voter voting in person … shall present identification” to a “local election official at the voting place before voting.” The law also provides, however, that those who do not have a license may file a declaration that a “reasonable impediment prevented them from acquiring qualifying photo ID.” This “reasonable impediment” provision was a major factor in the judge’s decision, as the court rejected the plaintiffs’ contentions that the law was discriminatory. In particular, the court held that African American and Hispanic voters did not suffer a lessened ability, when compared to non-minorities, to participate in voting and the political process. The ruling was not unexpected, as the judge had previously declined to block [JURIST report] the state from implementing its voter ID law in the most recent primary. Plaintiffs have already pledged to appeal.
Voting rights remain a controversial legal issue in the US. Earlier this month a federal appeals court held that a Wisconsin voter ID law needs to be re-examined [JURIST report]. In March a federal appeals court agreed to reconsider [JURIST report] Texas’ voter ID law before the entire court. Last May the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a 2012 law requiring voters to be state residents, not just domiciled in the state. In March of last year Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration. A federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a Kansas rule that required prospective voters to show proof-of-citizenship documents before registering using a federal voter registration form in November 2014.