Carl Hintz| Correspondent

On Friday, July 29th, three judges from the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Photo ID requirements and other voting restrictions that were enacted in 2013 by the NC legislature (S.L. 2013-381). As a result of this ruling, photo ID will not be required to vote. Preregistration, out-of-precinct voting, and same-day registration will be reinstated and early voting will be extended. This marks an important legal victory for defenders of voting rights.

The appellate judges ruled that the 2013 law was “enacted with racially discriminatory intent.” The NC legislature used racial data to specifically disenfranchise African Americans who often vote for Democratic candidates.  While the voter ID law might on thesurface seem racially neutral,it directly harms African Americans and other groups.

The Photo ID prevision was informed by data that shows African Americans are more likely to lack DMV Photo IDs and the restrictions on early voting were inspired by data that show African Americans disproportionately use early voting.  According to Circuit Judge Dianna Motz, “state legislatures have far too often found facially race-neutral ways to deny African Americans from the franchise.”

In some cases districts have been illegally drawn based on race. On Friday, July 1st the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found the Wake county school board election maps unconstitutional because they gave more votes to predominantly white suburban areas. Similarly in February 2016, federal judges struck down two predominantly black congressional districts on the grounds that they were racially gerrymandered.

The favorable outcome of NAACP v McCrory highlights the importance of political organizations such as NAACP and League of Women Voters who brought the case forward. While the issue of voting rights is far from settled, this is a step towards a true democracy.