(Reuters) - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked a federal judge on Tuesday to halt the implementation of a photo identification requirement for North Carolina voters, saying the measure discriminates against black and Latino residents.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and other plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to stop the requirement, which will take effect next year, ahead of primary elections in March.
“North Carolina’s voter ID requirement remains an undue and unlawful burden on voters of color,” Reverend William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, said in a statement.
“A preliminary injunction would ensure democracy is not disrupted for eligible voters of color,” he said.
North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature in 2013 passed a series of voting restrictions that shortened the state’s early voting period by seven days, ended same-day registration, banned provisional ballots cast outside the correct precinct from being counted and ended a program allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote.
The law also requires voters to show certain forms of photo identification to cast a ballot.
Republicans argue the identification requirement is needed to prevent voter fraud. Democrats say the law was intended to make it harder for minorities, young people and other groups that tend to vote for Democrats to cast ballots.
The NAACP argues the rule has a disproportionately negative impact on minority voters who might have less access to legal documents needed to obtain driver’s licenses or other official identification.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder heard a challenge to the election law in July, but the identification measure will be taken up in a separate trial in January after state lawmakers last summer made amendments to soften the requirement.
In August, a federal court struck down a Texas law requiring voters to show authorized identification before casting ballots, saying the measure violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act through its “discriminatory effects.”