By Michael Tomsic
A group that's challenging North Carolina's voting overhaul in federal court will take a different argument to state court Friday. The League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs are asking a judge in Raleigh to toss out a photo ID requirement that starts next year.
Alberta Currie has turned out for election after election in North Carolina since the 1950s. But she doesn't have a photo ID and worries she doesn't have the right documents to get one.
Currie is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit over the upcoming photo ID requirement. Attorney George Eppsteiner represents her, the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs.
“The North Carolina constitution specifically describes what the requirements for voting are,” he says, “and it specifically says there cannot be additional requirements on the right to vote that are outside the state constitution.”
The League of Women Voters is also involved in a federal lawsuit over the ID requirement and other changes Republican lawmakers passed in 2013, like cutting early voting and getting rid of same-day registration.
Eppsteiner said regardless of what happens in that case, a state judge could rule on this case.
“We argue that the North Carolina constitution provides greater protections on the right to vote, and therefore this case is in state court,” he said.
Lawyers for the state have moved to have this case dismissed.
Josh Lawson is a spokesman for the North Carolina Board of Elections. He said the state constitution does say that people have to possess certain qualifications to vote.
“The article then goes on to include an empowerment for the legislature to make rules relating to the registration of individuals to vote,” he said.
It'll be up to Judge Michael Morgan in Raleigh to decide if requiring a photo ID fits into that power.
Judge Morgan could rule after the hearing or let the lawsuit go to trial this summer. That's also when the federal lawsuit is scheduled for trial.