Closing arguments in a closely watched federal trial on North Carolina’s photo ID requirement for voting will be Monday. Friday marked the first full day of evidence from attorneys defending state elections officials, state Republican legislators and Gov. Pat McCrory over the voter ID requirement that went into effect this year. The requirement is part of the state’s Voter Information Verification Act that legislators passed and McCrory signed into law in 2013. The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice and others filed a federal lawsuit over the provisions of the law, alleging that they are unconstitutional and violate the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The plaintiffs allege two things: that the law — including the photo ID requirement — puts undue burdens on black and Hispanic voters, and that state Republican legislators had discriminatory intent in passing the legislation.
Plaintiffs allege that state Republican legislators waited until after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a section of the Voting Rights Act to push one of the country’s most sweeping and restrictive elections law.
Late Thursday and all day Friday, state attorneys called expert witnesses to testify that there’s no evidence that North Carolina’s photo ID requirement makes it harder for blacks and Hispanics to vote.
What has been a critical focus for both sides this week is an amendment to the photo ID requirement that legislators passed in June 2015 that allows voters who don’t have one of six kinds of acceptable photo IDs to fill out and sign a “reasonable impediment” declaration form.