North Carolina voter ID trial rescheduled for spring in federal court

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal lawsuit filed five years ago challenging North CarolinaThe new photo voter ID mandate is now set to be tested in the spring, the results of which could potentially affect what people must do to vote this fall.

The U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem announced Monday that Judge Loretta Biggs will convene a non-jury trial over the law starting May 6, which was Just implemented last fall.

While the state's photo ID requirement remains in place for the March 5 primary election, a decision in the spring or summer after Biggs filed a lawsuit to strike down the law threatens its use in the November general election in the nation's ninth-largest state. It is possible Governor, Attorney General and several other statewide races will be on the fall ballots in North Carolina. However, courts may be cautious about changing voting rules close to an election to avoid confusion.

The May date is nearly three months later than the date that attorneys for the state NAACP and several local chapters had requested several months earlier. They sued over the 2018 law, claiming it is rife with racial bias.

Lawyers for Republican legislative leaders defending the legislation told Biggs in writing that the testing program sought by the NAACP groups was inadequate. He also said that it did not give the judge any opportunity to dismiss the case on arguments before the formal hearing.

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Biggs scheduled a hearing in November about a trial date and whether the State Elections Board should require plaintiffs to provide more public records about how voter ID has been enforced since last year. In a separate order Monday, Biggs referred the plaintiffs' request to a magistrate judge to recommend a decision. That recommendation can be challenged.

Following a state Supreme Court ruling last April upholding the 2018 law as legal, the photo ID requirement was implemented in most municipal elections in September, October and November.

The trial date order does not predict how long the trial will last. But it sets aside three weeks after the trial for the parties to file more papers.

The federal lawsuit alleges that the ID law violates the Voting Rights Act by disproportionately discriminating against black and Latino voters to comply with the requirement. Republican lawmakers disagree and say the law impairs public confidence in elections. They also point to a wider range of exceptions for people who still don't have ID to vote than under the earlier voter ID law.

Previous trial dates for 2021 and 2022 were postponed. Biggs delayed a start date while the U.S. Supreme Court considered his earlier refusal to allow GOP lawmakers to intervene in the case and defend the law in court. US judges side with legislative leaders In June 2022.

Biggs lifted a stay on proceedings in the case for a few months last summer After the State Supreme Court Mandate determined in accordance with the state constitution.

At the end of 2019, Biggs issues preliminary injunction He blocked the 2018 voter ID law, saying it was largely racially biased because a previous voter ID law approved by legislators in 2013 was struck down on similar grounds. The 2013 law was briefly enforced in 2016.

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