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NC Photo Voter ID Legal Update – June 2023

June 9, 2023

NAACP North Carolina Requests Action in its Federal Court Challenge to North Carolina’s Discriminatory Photo Voter ID Law

NAACP North Carolina Files Motion to Lift the Stay and Schedule a Status Conference in its Federal Court Challenge to North Carolina’s Discriminatory Photo Voter ID Law


Raleigh, N.C - Today, Plaintiffs from the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP (“NAACP North Carolina”), including the Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Greensboro, High Point, Moore County, Stokes County and Winston-Salem Forsyth County branches (“Plaintiffs”), filed a Motion to Lift the Stay and to Schedule a Status Conference in their federal challenge to S.B. 824, North Carolina’s discriminatory Photo Voter ID law. This case was set to go to trial in the Middle District of North Carolina in January 2022, but was stayed by the Court due to a pending challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding whether or not North Carolina legislative leaders could intervene as Defendants in the case; as well as a state challenge to this same law, Holmes v. Moore.


In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decided that the legislative leaders could intervene as a procedural matter in this case. However, that decision did not address the constitutionality of North Carolina’s discriminatory Voter ID law, and the NAACP North Carolina will vigorously pursue its challenge to that law now that the case will return to the federal trial court. 


While Plaintiffs are continuing their fight against this discriminatory law in federal court, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in April 2023 that S.B. 824 was constitutional under state law. The April decision reversed the determination of the previous North Carolina Supreme Court issued in December 2022 that S.B. 824 was unconstitutional based on racially discriminatory intent in violation of the state Constitution, upholding the same determination by the North Carolina trial court. Because of the most recent decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court, the State Board of Elections is currently moving forward with plans to implement Voter ID for future elections in North Carolina.  


The Plaintiffs’ motion today comes on the heels of a historic 5-4 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that Alabama discriminated against Black voters when it drew its seven congressional districts last year. Ultimately, the Court rejected Alabama’s effort to rewrite its longstanding interpretation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which outlaws voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race. Voting rights advocates and attorneys for the Plaintiffs say that now is the time for the federal court to re-open the case so that NAACP North Carolina can pursue its challenge to S.B. 824 to stop the implementation of this discriminatory law and protect Black voters in North Carolina.


Caitlin Swain, Co-Director of Forward Justice, said: "Recent attacks on voting rights in North Carolina have already denied access to the ballot to over 56,000 citizens and upheld racially gerrymandered maps. Now, officials are preparing to implement a discriminatory photo voter ID requirement, making it even harder for Black voters and a host of other impacted communities to make their voices heard in our democracy. As we mark a full decade without federal voting rights protections and a fully restored Voting Rights Act, legislatures and courts across the nation, particularly in the south, continue to make it painfully evident why those federal protections are critically important. We were encouraged by yesterday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and are filing this motion today to allow for a full and fair review of our client's case and ensure our state upholds the promise of democracy for all North Carolinians.” 


Deborah Maxwell, President of the NAACP North Carolina, said: “We are pleased to see the majority opinion from Alabama. This unexpected outcome in the federal courts is a crucial win against the continuous attacks on voting rights in this country and gives us the fuel here in North Carolina to keep fighting. The NAACP North Carolina will vigorously continue our challenge to this discriminatory photo voter ID law whose implementation would disproportionately impact Black people across the state. The NAACP North Carolina is no stranger to the long fight for justice and the right to vote. Today we reaffirm our call to all North Carolinians to stand with us as we file this Motion to Lift the Stay and continue our battle for justice in federal court. We know there is no victory without a fight and it is incumbent upon all of us to fight for the full freedom to vote in every election, and for the very life of our democracy.” 


Read the full filing here.