Judge sets 2015 trial date for lawsuits against N.C. voting law
Robert C. Lopez/Greensboro News & Record | Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:01 pm
A magistrate judge in U.S. District Court this morning set a trial date of July 2015 for a trio of lawsuits challenging a voting law passed by the state legislature over the summer.
The judge also set a deadline of Feb. 1, 2015, for the completion of discovery.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit in September against the state alleging that the voting law discriminates against minorities.
Two other similar suits were also filed by groups of individuals and advocacy organizations.
The Voter Identification Verification Act, signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in August, requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls, shortens the early voting period from 17 to 10 days and does away with the counting of provisional ballots cast by those who voted in the wrong districts.
Those provisions, along with others in the bill, will have a disproportionate effect on black voters, the DOJ argues.
Plaintiffs in the suits were hoping for a summer 2014 trial date so that the issues could be resolved before the midterm elections.
During today’s hearing, attorneys for the state contended that they needed more time to conduct depositions and gather data, and asked for a trial date in 2015.
In issuing her decision on the trial date, Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake left open the possibility of a preliminary injunction being filed, which would put the voting changes on hold.
The voting ID requirement is not scheduled to go into effect until 2016, although the early voting changes are set to take place next year.