State judge weighs decision on setting voter ID trial

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Case heard on NC's voter ID law.

The group challenging North Carolina's Voter ID law is asking a Wake County Superior Court judge to set a trial date before the general election in November.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, arguing for the plaintiffs, the League of Women Voters, successfully argued for a stay in the trial in August 2015. The plaintiffs wanted to hold off and use the March presidential primary to try to prove the law is harmful to voters.



At that same hearing in 2015, the state asked the case be dismissed because of changes in the law that would allow voters who had a reasonable impediment to obtaining a proper photo ID to cast a provisional ballot.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan sided with the plaintiffs and issued a stay. The state appealed that decision, but now, chief plaintiff attorney Anita Earls said they have the evidence they need from the March primary to move forward with a trial in August.

"People were not offered reasonable impediment ballots," said Earls of the March 15th primary. "When they asked for them, sometimes they were given regular provisional ballots instead of reasonable impediment provisional ballots. So there were a number of ways in which the system broke down and people were not able to vote."

Meanwhile, the state argued the superior court does not have the authority to set a trial date while its appeal is pending.

Phil Strach, representing the state, told Judge Morgan even if he did set a trial date for Aug. 8 as the plaintiffs requested, it would be too late.

"The court's failure to recognize that this case is moot, at this point, threatens orderly elections in November," he said.

Strach said holding a trial on the Voter ID law so close to the general election would cause mass confusion for poll workers who need to be trained.

Judge Morgan did not rule on the case Friday and did not set a timeline for when he would hand down his ruling, but he assured both sides he understood time was of the essence.

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