Judge says North Carolina vote can be held with GOP-backed changes

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A federal judge has ruled that North Carolina's November election can be held under new voting rules drafted last year by Republican lawmakers.

A federal judge has decided to uphold North Carolina's new voting law.

Republican lawmakers passed the sweeping changes last year. However, critics argue the new law could hurt voter turnout among minorities.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder denied a motion seeking to hold the November vote under old rules saying the groups failed to show they would suffer "irreparable harm."

The 125 page order details the reasons why the state's current restrictions will stick. The court said an injunction is an extraordinary action to be granted.

Groups working together, including the NAACP, have filed lawsuits challenging the voting law, which is considered on the toughest in the nation.

"If one elderly, young, black, white or Latino person decides she won't vote because of the shorter early voting, the elimination of same-day registration, the confusing ballots without straight-ticket voting and other sections of this voter suppression law that are still standing because of today's court decision, that is indeed an irreparable harm," said N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber.

"This is a victory for North Carolina's popular law that requires identification to vote. North Carolina is joining a majority of states in common sense protections that preserve the sanctity of the voting booth," said the Chief Legal Counsel to Gov. McCrory, Bob Stephens. "Today's ruling is just more evidence that this law is constitutional - as we have said from the very onset of this process,"

Although the judge upheld the current voting rules for this November, he gave the nod for the NAACP and other groups to move forward with trial.

"We will not rest in our efforts to ensure that the people can make their voices heard this November," said Barber. "The right to vote lies at the heart of our democracy. Our movement against this voter suppression law is built on the legacy of those who have testified before us, with their feet and blood, to fight for equal rights in North Carolina and the nation. We will not falter in our efforts to mobilize until this extreme law is completely repealed."

The State Board of Elections vows that efforts will be made to ensure every voter has the opportunity to participate at the polls.

"We are partnering with civic organizations across the political spectrum to implement new voting requirements in a way that serves all communities in our state," said State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook. "Outreach staff at the state board will continue our efforts to ensure that every voter has the opportunity to participate this November."

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