CHAPEL HILL – A federal judge ruled the court will not hear a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s controversial voting bill before 2015.
Former state senator Ellie Kinnaird says the decision to postpone the trial is problematic because many voters could find themselves disenfranchised next year.
“It’s a very great disappointment because the voting law so limits the access to the ballot and many populations are going to be adversely affected,” says Kinnaird.
However, there is a chance the plaintiffs will file an injunction that could suspend the new rules until after the 2014 election.
“They’re going to ask the judge to say while the suit is pending, please stop those from going into effect,” says Kinniard. “Don’t allow all those changes to go into effect.”
Currently, Governor Pat McCrory and the State Board of Elections are facing lawsuits from the U.S. Justice Department, the NAACP, the ACLU, the League of Women Voters and others regarding the provisions of Republican-backed legislation that dramatically changes North Carolina’s voting rules.
Under the bill passed last session, early voting is cut by a week, same-day registration is banned, and all voters will be required to present photo ID by 2016. Opponents say the new rules target students, minority voters and the elderly, all of whom are more likely to support Democrats.
This past August Kinnaird stepped down from the state senate seat she held for nearly 20 years so that she could focus on voter outreach in the wake of the bill’s passage. She says the full impact of the voting law changes has yet to be seen.
“There are many, many changes that are going to affect different population groups,” says Kinnaird. “Overall, it will suppress the vote and we’re very concerned.”
The numerous challenges to the voting law will likely be consolidated into one case, to be heard in U.S. District court in July of 2015.