From an editorial Tuesday in the Fayetteville Observer:
Plaintiffs wanted Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan to strike down the state’s voter ID law as unconstitutional last week. That didn’t happen. The state wanted him to toss out the lawsuit. That didn’t happen either.
But Morgan dismissed two of three grounds for the suit. One asserted that requiring a photo ID to vote is the same as requiring property ownership. Another said it violated the guarantee of free elections. Both of these were a stretch.
What Morgan left intact to be argued at trial this summer was a claim that even providing free IDs creates an undue burden for those who cannot afford the time or expense to obtain them. If true, it would mean the state’s election law violates the principle of equal protection.
The case and a parallel federal suit will get their days in court, but on more limited grounds than plaintiffs hoped. Those limits suggest that even if plaintiffs prove their case, the legal remedy would not be to remove the voter ID law. The judge could instead delay enforcement until the state does more to distribute ID’s to potential voters.
Disenfranchisement concerns must be taken seriously. But voter ID promises to help deter fraud.
If done fairly, it will be a good tool.