Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein announced Tuesday that they will no longer appeal a federal appeals court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s sweeping and controversial elections law. In a news release, Cooper and Stein said they were taking steps to withdraw a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. Former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had joined in a petition for the high court to hear the case late last year. The Republican-led State Board of Elections, its individual members and its executive director will remain in the case, according to the news release from the Governor’s Office. But Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said no decision has been made. The board will meet Wednesday and will likely take up the issue. “We need to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder, and I will not continue to waste time and money appealing this unconstitutional law,” Cooper said in a statement. “It’s time for North Carolina to stop fighting this unfair, unconstitutional law and work instead to improve equal access for voters.”
House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger blasted Cooper and Stein in a joint statement. “Roy Cooper’s and Josh Stein’s desperate and politically-motivated stunt to derail North Carolina’s voter ID law is not only illegal, it also raises serious questions about whether they’ve allowed their own personal and political prejudices and conflicts of interest to cloud their professional judgment,” the Republicans said.
In July, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law, known as the Voter Information Verification Act. The law’s most well-known provision required voters to have a photo ID when casting a ballot. The law also reduced the days of early voting, eliminated same-day voter registration and prohibited county elections officials from counting out-of-precinct ballots — all voting practices used disproportionately by black residents. The court ruled that the voting restrictions “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”