North Carolina Superior Court judges on Friday struck down the state’s voter identification law, ruling that the measure discriminates against Black voters.
Senate Bill 824 was passed in 2018 after voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID to vote. That amendment, however, didn’t address what IDs would be accepted and how the process would work. That was addressed by legislators in SB 824.
The Associated Press reported the judges found the law ”was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters,” Superior Court Judges Michael O’Foghludha and Vince Rozier wrote in their 100-page majority opinion.
The judges said that although the law was designed with the intent to implement a voter-approved referendum to mandate photo IDs for votes, this measure intentionally discriminates against Black voters, thereby violating their right to equal protection.
The judges pointed out in their ruling that ”less restrictive voter ID laws would have sufficed to achieve the legitimate nonracial purposes of implementing the constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, deterring fraud, or enhancing voter confidence.”
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Nathaniel Poovey wrote that passage of the voter ID law falls in line with the state constitution, citing the law’s support from several Black legislators and the citizens voting for the constitutional referendum, Charlotte TV station WOWK reported, citing the AP story.
”Competence evidence before this three-judge panel does not suggest our Legislature enacted this law with a racially discriminatory intent,” Poovey said.
Republicans have been advocating for voter ID laws for many years. GOP leaders have said voter ID laws are needed to build public confidence in elections and to prevent voter fraud. But many Democrats see the mandates as attempts at voter suppression.