Three years ago, North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill designed to combat voter fraud that required those casting their ballots to show some form of identification at the polls.
While many would see that as a reasonable requirement, a panel of state judges shot down the election integrity measure in a 211-page ruling handed down Friday, according to The Hill.
Fox News first reported in 2018 that North Carolina voters had approved the measure in a statewide referendum. Approved forms of ID that would be accepted by poll workers reportedly included “driver’s licenses and military identification, student IDs from colleges and universities, and employee ID cards for state and local governments.”
North Carolina Representative David Lewis (R) was among those who supported voting ID requirements. He told Fox at the time: “The ability to commit fraud is so easy.”
However, Fox noted that the law soon ran into legal problems, as it was challenged by voters assisted by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
Fox explained that an appeals panel made up of Judges Toby Hampson, Allegra Collins, and John Arrowood had issued an injunction against the law, saying that its requirements were racially discriminatory. All three judges are registered Democrats.
Now, The Hill reports that another appeals panel has made a similar declaration.
“In reaching this conclusion, we do not find that any member of the General Assembly who voted in favor of [the law] harbors any racial animus or hatred towards African American voters,” the trio of judges wrote in their lengthy Friday opinion, according to The Hill.
Instead, the panel insisted “that the Republican majority ‘target[ed] voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constitute[s] racial discrimination,’” they said, as The Hill reported.
The judges said “[o]ther, 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.”
However, the decision was not unanimous, as The Hill noted, with Judge Nathaniel Poovey writing a dissent that the evidence “does not suggest our legislature enacted this law with a racially discriminatory intent.”
In the wake of the latest setback, only time will tell if Republicans in the Tar Heel State revive their effort to protect the integrity of their elections.