The Supreme Court on Wednesday turned away an emergency appeal from North Carolina’s Republican leaders who were hoping to reinstate new voting rules that were struck down in July as racially biased. The justices said they were deadlocked 4-4 and would not intervene, leaving in place the state’s rules for casting ballots and early voting that were used before 2013. The vote split on ideological lines. The court’s decision is a victory for civil rights advocates and Obama administration lawyers who had challenged North Carolina’s rules as violating the Voting Rights Act. The outcome also may give a slight boost to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, who will need strong support from minority voters to prevail in November.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who is locked in a tight race for reelection, had appealed to the high court two weeks ago and contended his state would suffer “irreparable harm” if it could not enforce its new voter ID restrictions. But the Justice Department urged the court to stand back and permit the November election to go forward “free from the taint of racial discrimination.”
New voters in North Carolina were already required to present some form of identification, such as a driver’s license, Social Security or photo ID card, when they register. To cast a ballot at a polling place, they must provide a name, address and sign a form attesting to their identity. The signature is compared to the one on the registry.