The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hold a hearing Sept. 25 in Charlotte to address new legal challenges to the law.
In August, a federal judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have delayed the implementation of the law — but the state chapter of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and other groups appealed that ruling.
The groups hope the court will block parts of the law from affecting the fall 2014 elections.
Proponents of the 2013 law, which reduced the early voting period from 17 days to 10 days and eliminated same-day voter registration, say it will protect the electoral process — but critics fear it will discriminate against minority voters and impact students.
“There are a lot of different populations that will negatively be affected, not just racial minorities,” said Irving Joyner, the N.C. NAACP’s legal adviser.
“There is a direct attack on (students) from changing polling places on college campuses and moving them out to the area where it is difficult for them to get to the polls to vote,” he said.
But Joyner said he is confident in the NAACP’s case.
“We are very optimistic, and I think if you look at this with an unbiased eye, I think it becomes a classical situation that even Stevie Wonder could see,” he said.
Bob Hall, executive director of the left-leaning Democracy North Carolina, said the law represents a step backward for voting rights in the state.
“North Carolina has a miserable record of voter participation,” he said, and same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting have improved those numbers.
“Now it’s tragic that they are taking those exact measures away that helped us,” he said.
A Democracy North Carolina analysis of May 2014 primary ballots found that 454 voters had their ballots rejected because of the law’s changes to voting rules.
But Valerie Procopio, chairwoman of the North Carolina Federation of College Republicans, said the voting law — particularly the voter ID requirement, which will take effect in 2016 — allows for transparency and validity in the electoral process.
“Intentional voter fraud undermines our system and creates a very hard-to-follow but destructive outcome,” she said. “I think a lot of voter fraud isn’t even malicious, but it doesn’t make it any less of a problem.”
Kathryn Walker, president of UNC College Republicans, said the law creates security.
“It’s really protecting an essential and very important civic duty,” she said.
Rob Schofield, director of research and policy development at N.C. Policy Watch, said if the law’s implementation is delayed, the change could ultimately affect the outcome of this year’s elections.
“If somehow the court were to act very quickly and make it possible for people to have same-day registration and perhaps expand early voting back to where it used to be,” he said, “it seems to me it could have an impact in a very tight election.”