A federal court in North Carolina on Thursday temporarily blocked the state’s new voter ID law from being used in the 2020 primary elections.
“Based on the State Board’s representation at the Preliminary Injunction hearing held December 3, 2019 that the Board plans a very large statewide mailing on December 31, 2019 to educate the voters on the Photo ID provisions of S.B 824, the Court hereby informs the parties that the Court will file an Order granting Plaintiffs’ request for injunction related to the Voter Photo ID and Ballot Challenge provisions of the Act the week of December 30, 2019,” states the text order.
The preliminary injunction is pending appellate litigation ongoing in the North Carolina NAACP case challenging the voter ID constitutional amendment that the GOP supermajority rammed through before their elections. The North Carolina NAACP, as well as several branches of the organization around the state filed suit in December 2018 over the new voter ID amendment, noting its similarity to a prior photo ID bill that was struck down because it was racially discriminatory.
“Both were the product of rushed legislative processes,” the complaint states. “Both were based on pretextual justifications, making changes to the voting process when there was nothing wrong in the first place that necessitated a photo ID requirement. And both carve out classes of identification or otherwise impose onerous rules that will have a disproportionate impact on minority citizens’ ability to participate in the political process.”
The current case is assigned to Judges Loretta C. Biggs and L. Patrick Auld in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. They have not yet released a memorandum about the decision to enjoin the voter ID law at this time, but plan to, according to the text order on Pacer.
Voting rights advocates, upon hearing the news late Thursday, celebrated the decision.
The Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman and the North Carolina NAACP sent a “victory” email noting it planned to gather for a press conference at 1 p.m. today at the legislative building, at 16 W Jones Street.
Democracy NC viewed the injunction as a signal that the court plans to stop voter ID altogether for the 2020 primaries, pending trial.
“We applaud the court’s action to stop a discriminatory and poorly-implemented strict photo voter ID law that would have meant long lines at the polls, election chaos for our counties and ultimately disenfranchise eligible voters during the high-turnout 2020 Primary,” said Executive Director Tomas Lopez. “Now the work must immediately begin to make sure eligible voters know that the rules governing their elections have changed again, while emphasizing that what hasn’t changed is the importance of them making their voices heard in 2020.”
It’s expected the State Board of Elections will have more information later today about what this means for operations ahead of the primary elections.
Read the initial challenge filed by the NAACP below.