Fourth Circuit Hears Oral Arguments on North Carolina Voter ID Law and Other Election Integrity Reforms

Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit heard arguments on North Carolina's voter ID law and other election integrity reforms:

The hearing was the latest legal step in a long saga over House Bill 589, passed nearly three years ago by state lawmakers. It was in June 2013 when the North Carolina General Assembly passed a measure that mandated photo identification, reduced early voting, and eliminated same day registration, among other provisions. . . . 

The defense maintains plaintiffs have failed to use statistical evidence to prove discrimination. A ruling from the panel could uphold or undo the controversial law.  

"We had the benefit of the 2014 election and the plaintiffs have said well you can’t just rely on one election – well it’s the only election we have to rely upon," defense attorney Tom Farr said. . . . 

The general election is 20 weeks from these proceedings, and the expectation is that the three judge panel will rule relatively quickly, so that the state Board of Elections will have enough time to prepare.

The District Court had upheld the voter ID law and the other reforms in a strong, carefully considered opinion in April.  According to some reports, the Fourth Circuit panel unfortunately was skeptical of the purpose of the reforms:

Members of a three-judge federal appeals court panel are expressing skepticism that North Carolina's Republican-led legislature's changes to voting laws do not discriminate against minorities.

A recording of the oral argument in NAACP v. McCrory is available here [auto-play recording].