A federal judge on Monday upheld a North Carolina law that requires voters to show certain forms of photo identification at the polls, in a key victory for Republicans in a presidential election year who say the law is needed to prevent fraud.
The case tested a central piece of broad voting restrictions passed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that North Carolina and other states with a history of discrimination no longer needed federal approval for voting law changes affecting minorities.
In siding with Republican Governor Pat McCrory and other state officials in dismissing challenges to the law, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder in Winston-Salem wrote in a 485-page ruling that North Carolina "has provided legitimate state interests for its voter-ID requirement and electoral system."
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and individual voters backed by the U.S. Justice Department had argued that the law disproportionately burdened African-Americans and Hispanics, who are more likely than whites to lack the acceptable forms of identification.
Democrats say the law and similar measures passed by other Republican-governed states are intended to make it harder for minorities, young people and other groups that tend to vote for Democrats to vote.
Republicans argue that voter ID and other requirements are needed to prevent voter fraud.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle)