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Federal Appeals Court Throws Out North Carolina's Voter ID Law


Civil rights groups are having a good day. A federal appeals court has struck down a controversial North Carolina voting law. Opponents called it the most restrictive in the country. NPR's Pam Fessler has more.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: The North Carolina law imposed a strict photo ID requirement on voters. It also cut out a week of early voting, eliminated same-day voter registration and made other changes that critics say unfairly hurt the state's minority voters. A three-judge panel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals not only agreed. It found that the state's Republican controlled legislature passed the law with the intention to discriminate.

In a strongly worded decision, the court said that the voting restrictions, quote, "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision." And the judges rejected the state's claim that the changes were needed to protect against voter fraud.

It was a big victory for the U.S. Justice Department and civil rights groups, which had been fighting voting restrictions in several crucial swing states. It comes on the heels of two court decisions last week that weakened similar voter ID requirements in Texas and Wisconsin. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory says the state will immediately appeal. But as the election nears, the state's options will become increasingly limited. Judges don't like to change voting rules too close to an election. State election officials say they have to start getting plans in place for November as early as next month. Pam Fessler, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues.