After four days of testimony, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice rested their case Thursday in a federal trial challenging North Carolina’s photo ID requirement for voting. Their last witness was Kim Strach, the state’s elections director. It was through sharp questioning of Strach that plaintiffs argued that state elections officials had failed to educate the public about a recent amendment to the photo ID requirement that state Republican legislators passed last June. The amendment allows voters who don’t have photo ID to fill out and sign a “reasonable impediment” declaration form. That form has examples of reasons why voters weren’t able to get one of six acceptable photo IDs, including lack of transportation, work schedule or not having the necessary underlying documents, such as a birth certificate. After filling out the form, voters will get to cast a provisional ballot that will be counted later after their reasons are verified.
Michael Glick, one of the attorneys for the state NAACP, walked Strach through a draft form of the reasonable-impediment declaration form as well as the amended photo ID requirement. He argued that most people wouldn’t know what “reasonable impediment” means because they don’t use that kind of language on a regular basis.
Glick also said the law says a person can challenge another voter’s reasonable-impediment declaration, and that challenge will be heard by a county board of elections during the work week. Under state law, the majority of the three-person county board of election will be made up of the party in power in the governor’s office. Gov. Pat McCrory is a Republican.
Strach said someone who challenges another voter would have a high legal standard to meet because the county elections board has to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the voter.