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U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Reinstate NC Voter ID Law

Photo: 'Vote Here' sign in English and Spanish
Erik Hersman

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to issue a stay in North Carolina's voter identification law.

The Court voted 4-4 on the request from Governor Pat McCrory and others.
With the court deadlocked, voters will not have to show an ID at polls come Election Day in November. The decision also means that early voting in North Carolina reverts back to 17 days.

Governor McCrory issued a statement Wednesday following the Supreme Court's decision:

"North Carolina has been denied basic voting rights already granted to more than 30 other states to protect the integrity of one person, one vote through a common-sense voter ID law. Even without any support from our state's attorney general, we were pleased that four justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, agreed with this right while four liberal justices blocked North Carolina protections afforded by our sensible voter laws."

Common Cause North Carolina was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the loss of same-day registration and cuts to early voting. Bob Phillips, the group's executive director, described the Supreme Court's ruling as a victory for North Carolina voters.

"We are pleased that the Fourth Circuit Court's ruling will stand, which recognized that this sweeping voter suppression law placed undue burdens on millions of North Carolina voters. North Carolinians can now confidently look forward to having the option of using same-day voter registration this fall. However, it is vital that the court decision be recognized and embraced by boards of elections across the state, and that a full complement of early voting sites be made available for this election."

In July, a federal appeals court found that North Carolina's voter ID law was enacted "with discriminatory intent" against African Americans and must be blocked.

An opinion issued by a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond reversed a lower-court's ruling that had upheld the law.

The 2013 rewrite to voting laws in North Carolina required photo identification to cast in-person ballots and made other changes.

The U.S. Justice Department, state NAACP, League of Women Voters and others sued the state, saying the restrictions violated the remaining provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act and the Constitution.

Governor McCrory condemned the court's ruling and appealed the decision.

In a statement, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, praised the Supreme Court's decision.

“The Supreme Court was correct to deny North Carolina’s last-ditch effort to undermine African-American voter participation in the November election," Ho said. "This ruling means that thousands of voters who would have been disenfranchised will now be able to participate in the presidential election."

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Feature News Editor. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is WUNC’s Digital News Editor. She's a first-generation Colombian-American fluent in Spanish. She has two decades of experience than span print, audio, and digital reporting and editing.
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