NC’s voter ID law faces a tough hurdle with skeptical Fourth Circuit

RICHMOND, Va. (WNCN) – North Carolina’s new tighter rules for voting, which include a photo ID, is under scrutiny by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

The NAACP, the Justice Department and others claim that the law discriminates against minority voters.

At least one judge today seemed skeptical of the law passed by the Republican-led Congress in North Carolina. Appellate Judge Henry Floyd, in questioning North Carolina’s attorneys, said, “It looks pretty bad to me in terms of purposeful discrimination.”

Tom Farr, an attorney for the state, replied, “Your honor, I hope that I can persuade you that it was not a nefarious thing.”

The law has withstood scrutiny to this point. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder issued a 479-page opinion in April rejecting constitutional claims. He wrote that the challengers to the law, “have not established that…African Americans or Hispanics have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.”

But lawyers from both sides are again in court making their cases before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and those suing say the law is on their side.

“All of the evidence supports and requires a finding that this law was enacted for racial intent,” said NC NAACP lawyer Penda Hair.

In addition to requiring photo ID to vote in person, the law eliminates same-day registration and reduces the number of early voting days.

Those suing hope to get the law thrown out before the November elections. “There’s still ample time to set up the systems for early voting and to educate voters about these changes,” said plaintiff’s attorney Allison Riggs.

Lawyers representing the state of North Carolina disagreed.

Supporters of the law say it prevents election fraud.

“The fraud, anybody could just go in and vote and not be the right person,” said Jackie Russell of Charlotte, who supports the law.

But Katrina Freeman of Raleigh opposes the law. “We’ve done it for so long without an ID, I don’t think it should be required,” she said.

There’s no set timeline on when the three judges will make their ruling.

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