Lawmakers urge Department of Justice to seek immediate stay of voter ID injunction

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Attorneys representing North Carolina lawmakers urged the state Department of Justice to immediately seek a stay of a federal judge’s recent injunction blocking a voter ID requirement from taking effect for the state’s 2020 elections, Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said in a news release Monday.

A federal court last week announced its plans to temporarily block North Carolina’s voter ID requirements that were set to go into effect in 2020.

The preliminary injunction means that a photo ID requirement will not be in effect for the state’s primary in March, absent a successful appeal.

The reason given for the advance notice was that a statewide informational mailing on the new requirements was set to go out Tuesday. The North Carolina State Board of Elections has now stopped printing several million of those mailers, spokesperson Patrick Gannon told CNN.

The case — NAACP et al v. Cooper — filed in North Carolina’s Middle District, is one of at least two current lawsuits challenging the state’s voter ID law.

The president of the North Carolina NAACP chapter, the Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, said during a news conference Friday that the group is “overjoyed that the federal court will intervene to halt this illegal photo ID” law. He called the law “the latest bad faith attempt in a string of failed efforts by the North Carolina General Assembly to impede the right to vote of African Americans and Latinos in this state.”

The North Carolina Republican Party on Friday called on the state attorney general, Democrat Josh Stein, to appeal the decision.

“Unfortunately, this preliminary injunction is yet another example of judges legislating from the bench,” Jeff Hauser, the communications director for the state’s Republican Party, said in a statement. “This action, if it is allowed to stand, will invalidate the votes of millions of North Carolinians who voted overwhelmingly to implement voter ID and strengthen the integrity of N.C. elections.”

According to Berger, attorneys representing General Assembly lawmakers at the firm of Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, wrote the following in an email to DOJ officials on Monday:

“It is not clear…whether the voter ID law could as a practical matter be enforced in the March 2020 primaries if the injunction is lifted or stayed after December 31,” an attorney for North Carolina lawmakers wrote to DOJ on Monday. “And at the very least it appears that resolution is needed by January 13, 2020, as that is the date when absentee ballots will be available. For these reasons, it is imperative that you seek a stay of Judge Biggs’s injunction immediately to avoid irreparable harm to the State.”

Berger and State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) released the following joint statement:

“The North Carolina Department of Justice must ask for a stay in this case. This last-ditch effort from an unelected judge to stymie the implementation of voter ID and prohibit the legislature from defending the law it wrote is inappropriate. Legislative leaders have worked in good faith to accept numerous forms of IDs and allow for certain exclusions. The result is one of the most lenient voter ID laws in the nation.”

CNN contributed to this report.

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