NC appeals court hears arguments over voter ID challenge

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s voter photo identification mandate already may be blocked for the upcoming March primary by a federal judge, but others are still trying to fight the ID requirement in state courts.

Lawyers for five voters who sued over the newest ID mandate and for the Republican legislative leaders who helped enact the 2018 law argued before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Last summer, a trial court denied the voters’ request to block voter ID before their lawsuit went to trial.

The voters appealed that decision, prompting Wednesday’s appeals court hearing.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs granted a similar preliminary injunction in a federal lawsuit challenging the voter ID law.

State attorneys plan to appeal Biggs’ decision, so it’s possible the federal injunction could be overturned and the law enforced in November.

That’s why the lawyers representing the voters in the state lawsuit still consider it important to obtain a state injunction.

Voters’ attorney Allison Riggs told the appeals court the lower court decision should be reversed because the 2018 law was formed with the same discriminatory intent against black voters that judges found in a 2013 voter ID law previously struck down.

David Thompson, representing the legislative leaders, said there was no such bias within the new law.

Thompson said the law is quite different in part because it allows more leeway for people who couldn’t obtain an ID to cast a ballot.

All five voters who sued would be able to vote in November should the ID law be enforced, he said.

The appeals panel of Judges John Arrowood, Allegra Collins and Toby Hampson didn’t say after Wednesday’s arguments when it would rule.

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