North Carolina voters will not be required to use photo ID to vote in 2019, according to a bill Gov. Cooper signed into law Thursday. The new law delays the implementation of voter IDs until 2020, bypassing the special elections in the state’s 3rd and 9th Congressional districts and the scheduled municipal elections.
Lawmakers worry that voter IDs would add further instability to the elections for the vacant Congressional seats, and are concerned about the ability of state and local elections boards to “ensure uniformity” in photo ID requirements. Such requirements have yet to be fully formed, as local governments and universities work to meet a Friday deadline to get their IDs approved as acceptable forms of voter identification.
The law also puts photo IDs on hold to shift focus on absentee by mail voting rules and procedures, which have been put under scrutiny following a state investigation into the 9th Congressional District race that found evidence of illegal activity involving the mishandling of absentee mail ballots.
North Carolina voters approved the constitutional amendment mandating photo IDs at the voting booth last November. The General Assembly quickly passed a bill in December, directing how IDs would be implemented with plans to require photo identification in this year’s municipal election.
But the pause comes as the future of the constitutional amendment initiating the requirement remains unclear. In January, a Wake County judge voided the amendment saying the legislature that put it on the ballot lacked the authority to write them and put them on the 2018 ballot. The judge ruled that many of the legislatures who pushed for the amendment came from districts drawn with racial bias in order to disenfranchise black voters.
An appeals court set aside the Wake County judge’s ruling last week and the December law (outlining regulations for photo IDs) is also the subject of two pending lawsuits.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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