Attorneys rest case in lawsuit challenging NC election law

WINSTON-SALEM (AP) — Attorneys defending North Carolina’s new elections law rested their case in federal court Thursday after presenting evidence they say shows that the new law is racially neutral and has no discriminatory intent.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports ( the attorneys called six witnesses, the last of whom was Brian Neesby, business systems analyst for the State Board of Elections. Attorneys for the plaintiffs called four rebuttal witnesses.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder isn’t expected to rule right away on the lawsuit. For now, he has set aside a legal fight over North Carolina’s photo identification requirement to vote in person in 2016 because lawmakers last month eased the mandate.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported ( Schroeder agreed Thursday to give the state more time to prepare for closing arguments, which will now occur Friday and are expected to last three hours.

The trial stems from three federal lawsuits filed by the U.S. Justice Department, the North Carolina NAACP and others over provisions that scaled back early voting and prevented the counting of Election Day ballots cast in an incorrect precinct. The plaintiffs contend the law would have an adverse impact on black voters because they voted early and used same-day voter registration at dramatically higher rates than whites.

The Voter Information Verification Act requires registered voters to have a photo ID in the 2016 election. State attorneys have argued in court documents and in cross-examination that the law is race-neutral and does not impose any additional burdens on black and Hispanic voters.

Election law experts say the case could determine how far Southern states can change voting rules after the nation’s highest court struck down a portion of the federal Voting Rights Act just weeks before the North Carolina law was passed.

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