A federal trial in Winston-Salem next month on several provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law won’t consider challenges to the state’s upcoming voter identification requirement in light of recent changes to the mandate, a judge has ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder decided that claims against the photo ID provision set to begin in 2016 will be kept out of the July 13 trial and considered later. Schroeder’s order came barely a week after the legislature finalized a bill creating a method by which people who can’t obtain a photo ID before next year can cast a lawful ballot. Other claims that still will be tried on time include accusations that minority citizens will be disproportionately harmed by such changes as reducing early voting days by one week, ending same-day registration during early voting and rejecting Election Day ballots cast in a voter’s incorrect precinct. Republicans in charge of the legislature, who championed the law, reject those claims.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
Federal and state lawsuits filed nearly two years ago challenging what’s in North Carolina’s election overhaul law are finally heading to trial starting next month. But unexpected moves on the way to the courthouse could break down arguments of plaintiffs seeking to overturn the law’s most high-profile component: a photo identification requirement to vote in person starting next year. Republicans who have defended robustly their 2013 law quickly passed through the General Assembly this month changes that could allow perhaps hundreds to vote in person without qualifying photo IDs.
Changes made to North Carolina’s voter ID law last week have roiled a state court case in which plaintiffs were asking a judge to delay or throw out entirely the requirement that voters show current photo identification when they go to the polls starting in 2016. Lawyers representing both a group of voters and civil rights organizations as well as lawyers defending the state and the General Assembly told Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan on Monday that they needed time to digest what a bill lawmakers sent to the governor last week will mean. The lawsuit is one of two court cases challenging North Carolina’s sweeping 2013 elections law. The other is in federal court and covers a broader array of issues than the state case, which is focused on the voter ID requirement.
Responding to criticism that legislators sharply weakened the state’s voter ID law last week, House Rules Chairman David Lewis posted a 1,000-word “open letter” Monday defending the changes. The House and Senate quickly approved the changes last week; the legislation is now on Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk awaiting action. It would set up a process for voters to use a “reasonable impediment declaration” outlining why they couldn’t provide a photo ID at the polls. Voters could claim one of eight reasons, including a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, or a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID. Voters using the form would provide their date of birth or the last four digits of their Social Security number, or show a voter registration card to prove their identity.
Legislation dropped quickly on the General Assembly by Republican leaders and approved Thursday would allow some North Carolina residents to legally vote in person without photo identification as will be required in 2016. The House and Senate separately voted by wide margins for the elections legislation, which would ease the mandate in a 2013 law that anyone showing up to vote at an early-voting center or Election Day precinct show one of eight qualifying photo IDs. Driver’s licenses, military IDs and U.S. passports meet the standard. This and other provisions in the 2013 law are being challenged in federal and state courts, with the first trial scheduled next month. Meanwhile, state election officials still are preparing to carry out the photo ID requirement.
Nearly two weeks before a federal trial is set to begin on the constitutionality of North Carolina’s voter ID rule and other election law changes made in 2013, the General Assembly has changed the rules. The N.C. Senate voted 44-2 Thursday to soften voter ID requirements set to go into effect next year, approving legislation that allows voters without photo IDs to cast provisional ballots. The House also approved the bill a few hours later in a 104-3 vote, sending it to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. The bill, similar to a South Carolina law that was allowed to take effect in 2013, sets up a process for voters to use a “reasonable impediment declaration” outlining why they couldn’t provide a photo ID at the polls. Voters could claim one of eight reasons, including a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, or a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID.
North Carolina: Tick Tock: Will North Carolina Be Ready for 2016 Presidential Election | Public News Service
North Carolina is projected to be a “swing state” by analysts for the 2016 presidential election, yet its election law changes and redistricting still are being challenged in court. If the 2014 election is any indication, there is cause for concern, according to a Democracy North Carolina report released today that estimates that at least 30,000 voters did not vote in that election because of new voting limitations and polling-place problems. Report co-author Isela Gutierrez, Democracy North Carolina’s research director, said the state needs to take time to make sure the 2016 elections go smoothly. “We don’t want to become a national joke,” she said. “We have time now to take the right, proactive action to make sure voting goes smoothly in North Carolina, even if these restrictive new laws are not overturned by the courts.”
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill offering a new way for voters to decide whether to keep a state Supreme Court justice on the bench. The “retention election” option was among 12 bills McCrory’s office said Thursday he had signed into law. It gives most sitting justices the option to be re-elected to additional terms in an up-or-down statewide vote, without a challenger. The option begins with Justice Bob Edmunds for 2016.
The State Board of Elections held a public hearing in Winston-Salem Tuesday night to get feedback from voters about how the voter ID law should work at the polls. The board of elections has a proposed list of rules that voters got to comment on during the two-hour hearing. “Voting is fundamental, it’s extremely important. We take it very seriously, it’s what we do every day. It doesn’t surprise us that folks have feelings that run deep on these issues,” Josh Lawson said, the public information officer for the board of elections. This is the fifth meeting state officials have held to get feedback from citizens across the state. The next meeting is in Boone. A large crowd came to share their thoughts on the hotly debate law that goes into effect in 2016. It will require all voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot. “This is not a light subject, these rules. People died trying to earn a right to vote. People died. So, please keep that in mind,” one woman said at the meeting.
North Carolina: As voter ID changes approach, state to hold hearings in Boone, Sylva next week | Carolina Public Press
Voters across the state are getting a crash course in what it will take to cast a ballot in next year’s polls, at a series of hearings hosted this month by the State Board of Elections. The meetings, which kicked off Wednesday in Raleigh and will continue at eight additional locales, are geared at educating poll-goers on how to best anticipate changes that will be implemented in 2016 as a result of the 2013 voter ID legislation approved by the N.C. General Assembly. In particular, the hearings will focus on portions of the law which will require voters to present a government-issued ID bearing a “reasonable resemblance” to the voter, along with the criteria officials will use to determine if an ID is valid.