The question of whether North Carolina’s voter ID requirement violates the state Constitution will go to trial in late September, adding more uncertainty to the election process in a presidential year that has left many voters confused about schedules and their districts. Wake County Judge Mike Morgan on Monday signed an order rejecting a request by lawmakers to set the case in front of a three-judge panel or dismiss it altogether. The trial is set to start Sept. 26. Anita Earls, director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a law firm representing challengers of the state’s 2013 voter ID law, said she expected the trial to last about a week. Before Morgan set the schedule, Phil Strach, a Raleigh lawyer representing the legislators and the husband of the state elections director, argued that it would be better to wait until after November.
The lawsuit was filed in 2013, but it has been delayed in part because of proceedings in federal court over similar issues. The arguments, though, are different in the state case than they are in the federal one, where the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held a hearing but has yet to rule on a lower court decision upholding the ID requirement.
Strach tried to persuade Morgan that setting the trial so close to the election could be problematic for poll workers in November if the challengers prevailed. He argued that machines and training manuals would have to be changed and there would not be enough time to retrain poll workers. “It could be a recipe for confusion,” Strach said.