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North Carolina court blocks state voter identification law citing “intent to target African-American voters”

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The law, known as SB 824, was passed in 2018 after Republicans lost their qualified majority in the legislature, but before the new legislature took over. He was already suspended under a preliminary injunction, after the North Carolina Court of Appeals said voter identification provisions could negatively impact black voters. But now the state court has permanently blocked the law, which required photo ID to vote.

The majority of the three-judge panel said on Friday that the law “was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intention to target African-American voters.”

“Other, less restrictive voter identification laws would have been sufficient to achieve the legitimate non-racial objectives of implementing the constitutional amendment requiring voter identification, deterring fraud or enhancing voter confidence,” Superior Court judges Michael O’Foghludha and Vince Rozier wrote in their decision on Friday. .

In a statement, Southern Coalition for Social Justice Voting Rights co-executive director and chief counsel Allison Riggs and pro bono lawyer Andrew Ehrlich – attorneys who have served on behalf of a group of voters from North Carolina – said they “hoped” the decision sent “a strong message that racial discrimination will not be tolerated”.

The statement continued, “Today’s ruling overturning North Carolina’s latest unconstitutional photo-identification law is overwhelming evidence, including compelling stories of voters themselves being denied the right to vote. , who highlighted how the Republican-controlled state legislature unmistakably implemented this legislation to maintain power by targeting voters of color.

However, GOP leaders in North Carolina on Friday called the move “partisan,” doubling down on the claim that voter ID cards promote election security.

“Despite all their talk about a secure democracy, the left, with the competent help of the judiciary, is doing its best to undermine it. Today, a partisan court blocked the will of a majority of North Carolinians who changed their constitutions to demand a photo. voter card, ”North Carolina State Senator Paul Newton, a Republican, said in a statement.

“The Republican-led legislature has made incredible strides in increasing confidence in the election, and Democrats continue to use the judiciary to thwart the will of the majority of North Carolinians. We will appeal this matter,” did he declare.

After the ruling, Sam Hayes, general counsel for North Carolina House President Tim Moore, also a Republican, said, “This fight is far from over.”

“Once again, the Liberal judges have challenged the will of North Carolina on the integrity of the elections. Voters in this state have repeatedly supported a voter identification requirement – even going so far as to enshrine it in our state’s constitution. Senate Bill 824 is one of the most generous in the country, and it was modeled on those of other states. At trial, the plaintiffs were unable to produce a single witness who would not be able to vote due to the law, ”Hayes said in a statement.

“We look forward to appealing this partisan decision on behalf of the people of North Carolina,” he added.

In a statement, the plaintiffs’ lawyers ruled out any potential appeal.

“If legislative defendants appeal today’s ruling, we’ll be ready to remind them what this tribunal and the state’s constitutional mandate: every vote counts,” they said.

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