New voter ID law immediately challenged in N Carolina court

Court Watch

The North Carolina law detailing a new voter photo identification requirement got challenged in court Wednesday mere moments after the Republican-led General Assembly completed the override of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the measure.

Six voters filed the lawsuit in Wake County court less than 15 minutes after the state House finished the override in a mostly party-line 72-40 vote. The Senate already voted to override Tuesday.

The photo ID law implements a constitutional amendment approved in a referendum last month that mandates photo identification to vote in person, with exceptions allowed. Still, the plaintiffs contend the law violates the state constitution and should be blocked, saying it retains requirements within a 2013 photo ID law that federal judges struck down.

The voters — five black residents and one described as biracial — say the restrictions will harm African-American and American Indian residents disproportionately and unduly burden the right to vote. It also creates a financial cost to voting in the form of lost work times and the need to secure transportation to obtain an ID, the lawsuit said.

"The General Assembly has simply reproduced the court-identified racially discriminatory intent it manifested a mere five years ago when it enacted a very similar voter ID requirement," according to the plaintiffs' lawyers. Some of the attorneys work for an organization that helped challenge the 2013 law. That litigation took nearly four years to resolve.

Before and after the lawsuit was filed Wednesday, Republican lawmakers said the implementing legislation carries out what 55 percent of voters who supported the referendum in November wanted. GOP legislators rejected Cooper's veto message that the bill was a "sinister and cynical" attempt to suppress the voting rights of minorities, the poor and the elderly. Rather, they said, it was designed to discourage voter fraud and increase the public's confidence in elections.

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