The legal challenge to North Carolina’s voter ID law goes before a federal judge Monday, as the fight over whether the law suppresses minority votes flares up in the state’s U.S. Senate race. Opponents of the law, including Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, contend that the identification requirement and other new voting laws create an obstacle for blacks, Hispanics and women to reach the ballot box. The support of the same voter blocs are crucial to Mrs. Hagan’s strategy to win in November against Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis. The lawsuit, brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others, seeks an injunction against the law for the 2014 election. A hearing is scheduled Monday before U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder in Winston-Salem. Mrs. Hagan, meanwhile, will be angling to use the court hearing to vilify Mr. Tillis and rally Democratic voters.
“Kay urged the Department of Justice to investigate the voting law because she is committed to ensuring fair and equal access to the ballot box,” said Hagan campaign spokesman Chris Hayden. “While Kay is focused on eliminating barriers to the ballot box, Thom Tillis has installed new barriers for North Carolinians while making political spending less transparent.”
The lawsuit only fueled the bitter rivalry between Mrs. Hagan and Mr. Tillis, who are locked in a close race that has national implications since the outcome will help determine whether Republicans can capture majority control of the Senate.
The court hearing also provides Mrs. Hagan with the bonus of reminding voters of Mr. Tillis‘ leading role in North Carolina’s unpopular legislature. Only 18 percent of North Carolinians approve of the job the General Assembly is doing, with 54 percent disapproving, according to a survey last month by Public Policy Polling.