Circuit Court Delays Voting Changes

by Daniel Schere

Changes to voting procedures in North Carolina will not take place in time for this year’s upcoming midterm elections.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked parts of the state’s voter ID law passed by the General Assembly in 2013. The ruling preserves same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting for the upcoming election. The law, formally known as House Bill 589, will require voters beginning in 2016 to show one of eight acceptable forms of identification at the polls with the goal of reducing voter fraud. It also eliminates same-day registration and shortens the early voting period from 17 days to 10. The law has been criticized by the US Justice Department, the NAACP, and other organizations that believe the law is aimed at suppressing the vote of African Americans.

Wednesday’s ruling was made by a three-judge panel with one judge dissenting. It overturns a previous decision made by US District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder, who ruled that the existing law should stand as it is.

Donita Judge, an attorney from the civil rights group Advancement Project, called the ruling a “huge win” for the state and hopes it leads to a favorable ruling in 2015 when the entire law is challenged.

“We can’t afford to look at these types of rules in a vacuum,” she said. “We really have to look at them together.”

Judge added that she thought the circuit court ruled the way they did because they went one step farther in finding that the plaintiffs had been discriminated against””something the district court did not do.

The ruling only stays the law for the 2014 election cycle. The law will apply to all future elections unless it is successfully challenged.