Voter ID in NC still not required in 2020. Here’s why

By Kari Travis

Raleigh, NC – Yes, the N.C. Court of Appeals just upheld the state’s voter ID constitutional amendment. But no, you won’t have to show your ID when you head to the polls this year. 

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Photo by Element5 Digital

In a 2-1 decision Tuesday, Sept. 15, the Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s rejection of a voter ID amendment in NAACP v. Moore. The decision also reinstated a voter-approved amendment capping the state’s income tax rate. Both amendments — approved by voters in 2018 — were contested the following year in a trial court, where a judge ruled an illegally gerrymandered legislature had no power to place constitutional amendments on the ballot in 2018. 

That argument doesn’t apply, two of the three appellate judges said Tuesday. In short, voter ID remains part of the state’s constitution, as amended by voters.  

Some activists jumped on social media to praise the decision. 

“Hallelujah!” wrote one Twitter user. “The people of NC win! #VoterID” 

Not quite. At least, not yet. 

In February, another voter ID lawsuit, Holmes v. Moore, generated a separate ruling from the Court of Appeals. In that case, judges temporarily banned a law implementing voter ID in North Carolina elections. That ban was part of an interlocutory appeal, meaning the plaintiffs in the case couldn’t get a temporary injunction from the trial court handling the lawsuit, so it asked the Court of Appeals for one. The appellate court provided the injunction and returned the case to the lower court. 

If it sounds confusing, it’s because it is. Even so, that case remains in flux. And the law implementing voter ID rules is blocked. Indefinitely. 

In the meantime, voters “will not be required to show photo ID for elections held in 2020,” Pat Gannon, a spokesman for the N.C. State Board of Elections, told Carolina Journal

NAACP v. Moore will head to the N.C. Supreme Court, where Democrats hold a 6-1 majority. Three seats on the high court, including the chief justice’s seat, are being contested in the 2020 election. 

“Voter ID just became the most important issue in the N.C. Supreme Court campaigns,” Brent Woodcox, an attorney for legislative Republicans, tweeted Tuesday