A federal judge on Friday refused a request from state lawmakers to dismiss a challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder set the issue for a trial, tentatively in January. Attorneys for state lawmakers argued that a change made this year to the ID provision of election law made the 2013 legal challenge moot. Though the law initially restricted voting to people who had one of six specified photo identification cards, the General Assembly added a provision on the eve of the federal trial this summer that made it possible to cast a provisional ballot without an ID. The law is set to go into effect next year.
Advocates of the ID law say it is necessary to prevent voter fraud, though few cases of fraud have been prosecuted.
The NAACP and others have contended that requiring IDs to vote has a disproportionately negative impact on minority voters, who don’t always have access to birth certificates and other documents needed for the identification cards. Though the 2015 amendment now makes it possible to vote without one of the specified IDs, some of the challengers have asked for more time to study the practical effect. They also have questioned whether elections officials have had adequate time to educate the public about the most recent version of voting laws.