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Federal appeals court ruling paves the way for stricter voting requirements in NC

In 2018, North Carolina voters approved an amendment to the state constitution requiring voter identification. Last year, a lower court judge blocked the law, saying it was tainted with racial bias.

In a ruling Wednesday, a federal appeals court reversed that decision because of what it called fundamental legal errors.

"Their critique essentially was that the previous court had not taken into account the constitutional amendment vote, had not taken into account that four Democrats had voted for this 2018 bill," Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper said.

Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards (R) called the ruling a victory for North Carolinians. "I believe it is important for each of us, after we go to the voting booth, to go home and rest easy that we have a secure and accurate voting process," Edwards said.

He said a lack of trust in the voting system is playing out across the state as a result of lose requirements at the polls.

"I don't think that it is a necessary thing to have right now," Democratic Rep. Brian Turner said of the voter ID requirement. Turner used this past election as an example of why the voter identification law is not needed. "I think over 150 million people voted, and the attorney general just came out and said there is no evidence of any kind of fraud and we didn't have voter I.D.," Turner said.

Cooper said about 35 states have voter identification laws that vary in strictness. "The 2018 law that we are talking about today looks more in line what other states have done," Cooper said. Cooper said there is potential for an appeal of the ruling, as well as a state lawsuit related to voter identification.