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North Carolina’s voter law tested in federal court Monday

WINSTON-SALEM North Carolina’s new voter law will be tested in court Monday, as a federal judge hears arguments in a lawsuit filed to block the legislation from going into effect for the midterm elections in November.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder is scheduled to begin hearing arguments at 9:30 a.m. in the case of League of Women Voters of North Carolina vs. North Carolina.

A number of organizations have joined the League of Women Voters as plaintiffs, includng the ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Also involved with the plaintiffs are the U.S. Department of Justice and the NAACP.

Plaintiffs argue that the voter law, technically the Voter Information Verification Act, is designed to blunt voter turnout by African Americans, Latinos, young voters, the poor and the elderly.

This week’s court hearings are expected to gain nationwide attention as a test of legislation that has been adopted or proposed for a number of other states.

The best-known part of the law requires voters to present photo ID before casting a ballot. That portion of the legislation goes into effect in 2016. But plaintiffs also are arguing against portions of the law that eliminates advance registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, does away with the practice of county votes cast by residents in the wrong precinct, and reduces the number of days in the early voting period from 17 to 10.

The law also allows registered voters to challenge ballots cast by other voters.

The law was adopted last July by the North Carolina House and Senate, with strong support from Republican lawmakers. Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law last August.

Supporters of the law say it is not designed to disenfranchise minorities and others. Instead, the law’s backers say, the Voter Information Verification Act is designed to prevent voter fraud.

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