Sweeping changes to North Carolina’s voting law, considered one of the toughest in the nation, should be put on hold until at least after the November election, the U.S. Justice Department told a federal judge Monday. Lawyers for the Justice Department and an array of civic groups said the Republican-backed measures were designed to suppress turnout among minorities, the elderly and college students — blocs that generally vote Democratic. Supporters of the measure said they ensured fair elections, prevented voter fraud and no group was disenfranchised during recent party primaries. Representing the NACCP, lawyer Penda Hair tried to draw a direct line between the new law and voting rights won during the civil rights era. “We can never forget we are walking on sacred ground when it comes to African-American and Latino voting rights,” Hair said. “The long arm of slavery and Jim Crow still reaches into the present.”
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder is weighing whether to delay implementation of the law until a trial set for next year.
The 2013 law championed by GOP lawmakers and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory makes more than two dozen changes, including requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID, ending same-day registration, trimming the early voting period by a week and ending a popular high school civics program that encouraged students to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.
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