by Billy Ball
As expected, federal judges with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down key provisions of last year's controversial voting reforms approved by the N.C. General Assembly.
The decision, handed down by a panel of three judges—all of which were appointed by Democratic presidents—lifts the legislation's ban on same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. As Think Progress noted Monday, Judge James Wynn, a North Carolina native, seemed particularly riled by the GOP's move to strike the use of provisional ballots for voters who turned up at the wrong precinct.
However, the ruling upholds a number of other important portions of the bill. Most importantly, it retains the General Assembly's decision to shorten the state's early voting period.
"The court's order safeguards the vote for tens of thousands of North Carolinians," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, in a statement Wednesday. "It means they will continue to be able to use same-day registration, just as they have during the last three federal elections."
Not everyone was pleased. Kim Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said she worries the ruling will cause confusion this close to Election Day. “More than 4 million voter guides have gone to the public with information contrary to today’s decision," Strach said in a statement.
State officials are expected to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.