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Challenges To NC’s Voter ID Law Will Be Heard After 2014 Elections

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

A federal judge has ruled that challenges to the North Carolina law that requires voters to show identification at polling stations will not be heard until after the mid-term elections of 2014.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake said in a a hearing Thursday that the law was too complex to be thoroughly reviewed prior to the November elections. Peake scheduled a trial for July 2015.

Peake said the court would hear motions for an injunction on the law if the plaintiffs sought to block it while the case is open. Daniel Donovan, a lawyer representing the NAACP, had sought a an earlier resolution to the case.

“This is not just a schedule,” he said during the hearing. “This will determine whether people will have a right to vote.”

Under the law, House Bill 589, the voter ID measure will be in place for the 2016 elections. Other provisions, including eliminating same-day registration and shortening early voting by a week, will be in place for the 2014 elections.

Other groups challenging the new rules include the U.S. Department of Justice, the League of Women Voters and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Attorneys said they planned on filing to block the law.

“The evidence we’re going to put on for the preliminary injunction is the exact same evidence we would’ve put on for a full trial,” said Allison Riggs, an attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “So we think in effect, hopefully it will have no difference at all.”

Attorneys representing the state of North Carolina declined to comment after Thursday’s hearing.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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