The NAACP and others challenging the sweeping changes to North Carolina election laws in 2013 will have an opportunity to make arguments to a federal appeals court that the November elections should be held under old laws.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set Sept. 25 as the date for oral arguments on the pros and cons of an emergency appeal filed in late August by the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, registered Democrats in North Carolina and others.
The hearing will be in Charlotte, according to documents filed in federal court Tuesday.
Nearly a month ago, U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder rejected a similar request from the organizations and Democrats challenging the election law overhaul. Schroeder ruled the challengers had failed to make the case that voters would suffer “irreparable damages” if elections were held under the 2013 rules.
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The challengers contend that the 2013 election law overhaul discriminates against African-Americans, Latinos and voters younger than 25. They have asked the court to block provisions that end same-day registration, curb the number of days on which people can vote early, prohibit people from casting ballots out of their assigned precincts and end a popular teen preregistration program.
Republican leaders who shepherded the changes through the General Assembly to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the 2013 bill into law, argue that they are trying to ward off the potential for voter fraud, though few cases have been brought forward.
The provision of the 2013 election law overhaul that requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls does not go into effect until 2016, when presidential races will be on the ballot.
North Carolina voters go to the polls on Nov. 4 to decide a U.S. Senate race of national interest – the contest between Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro, and Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, the N.C. House speaker. Libertarian Sean Haugh also is seeking the seat.
There also are statewide races that have the potential to shift the political balance in the N.C. Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals.
The lawsuit is not scheduled to be heard in full until a federal court trial set for July 15.
In the interim, the challengers hope to prevent the new laws from taking further effect.
They contend that voters will suffer “irreparable damages” if any elections scheduled before the hearing of the lawsuit are held under the laws adopted by the Republican-led General Assembly and signed into law by McCrory last summer.
Primaries held in May were governed by the 2013 laws. Advocates of the changes use those elections to knock back contentions that the new laws suppress the votes of African-American, Latino and college-age voters.