A federal appeals court on Friday struck down North Carolina’s requirement that voters show identification before casting ballots and reinstated an additional week of early voting. The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit was an overwhelming victory for civil rights groups and the Justice Department that argued the voting law was designed to dampen the growing political clout of African American voters, who participated in record numbers in elections in 2008 and 2012. “We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the majority.
The challenge to North Carolina’s law is one of several cases throughout the country seeking to eliminate strict voting rules in place for the first time in the November presidential contest.
Opponents of the law, lead by the state NAACP, asked the three-judge panel to reverse a lower court ruling that upheld the voting rules.
In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers overhauled the election law soon after the Supreme Court got rid of a requirement that certain states with a history of discrimination receive pre-approval before changing voting rules. Legislators eliminated same-day voter registration, rolled back of a week of early voting and put an end to out-of-precinct voting.