Lawsuit in North Carolina courts challenges 2016 photo ID voter mandate

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Attorneys for the state and voters who sued over North Carolina's new voter identification law differ whether photo ID is an unlawful new qualification to vote or simply extends a legal method to prove someone is registered.

A judge heard several hours of arguments Friday in Wake County court over competing motions to throw out or uphold the requirement, which is supposed to begin in 2016. Voters will be required to show one of seven acceptable photo ID cards. State-issued student ID cards are not on the list.

Press Millen represents the voters. He says the state constitution doesn't grant the legislature power to add criteria to participate in elections.

"It is the General Assembly trying to limit the condition of who may vote and that's not in the constitution," said Millen.

However, state attorney Alec Peters said presenting photo ID is similar to the current requirement that people give their names and addresses at their precinct. Also, citizens can still vote without showing identification by using methods already in place like absentee ballots.

"There simply is no additional qualification to vote here," said Peters. "They may not go to the polls to vote, but they will be able to vote. They will not be denied their entitlement to cast a ballot."

The state argues citizens have always been required to establish their identities before getting their ballots. They say the photo ID mandate cracks down on voter fraud.

Critics, however, stand firm on their beliefs that it discriminates against minorities and young voters.

Judge Michael Morgan didn't immediately rule on the motions. A trial could occur this summer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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