A North Carolina state judge has declined for now to strike down or uphold photo identification requirements to vote in person starting in 2016 — keeping the path clear for a summer trial in a lawsuit. In a ruling provided Friday to case attorneys, Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan denied a motion by voters and advocacy groups who sued and believe the voter ID mandate is unconstitutional because legislators created another qualification to cast a ballot. But Morgan also refused to accept all the arguments of attorneys representing the state and State Board of Elections to throw out the lawsuit. With the refusals for “judgment on the pleadings” — meaning arguments with essentially no additional evidence — Morgan is indicating factual issues between the court opponents must be resolved. A trial already had been set for July 13.
The lawsuit is one of four complaints filed soon after Gov. Pat McCrory signed an elections overhaul law in August 2013 that contained several voting changes. Three were filed in federal court. The state lawsuit only addresses voter ID.
The federal lawsuits also challenge other provisions approved by the Republican-led legislature and already implemented. They include reducing the number of early-voting days and repealing same-day registration during the early-voting period. Those cases are set for trial this summer, too.