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Judges in North Carolina ruled the state is allowed to required voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot. A lawsuit claimed black voters would face discrimination under the rule.

North Carolina allowed to implement photo ID mandate for 2020

North Carolina's new voter ID requirements will be implemented during the 2020 presidential election.

A panel of three state judges dismissed much of a lawsuit alleging that black voters would face unconstitutional discrimination under the new rule, which requires voters to show photographic identification before entering the polls. A sliver of the lawsuit survives but the judges said the new requirement could be put into effect while the case proceeds.

The ruling is especially significant because winning North Carolina's 15 electoral votes will be critical to the electoral strategies of both President Trump and his Democratic challenger.

The requirement was approved by voters last fall. It was put on the ballot by the Republican legislature over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto.

"This is a huge win for the people of North Carolina who delivered a clear mandate last fall that they want common-sense protections against voter fraud," Senate GOP leader Phil Berger said after the judges' decision was announced Friday.

Voter ID laws have historically been used to disenfranchise black voters disproportionately, in part because many elderly African Americans in the South were not issued birth certificates. Three years ago a federal appeals court struck down an earlier photo ID law passed by the North Carolina Legislature as an unconstitutional targeting of "African-Americans with almost surgical precision."

The Republican authors of the new law say it is sufficiently different to survive such a voting rights challenge, in part because it allows for a wider array of IDs to be used at polling sites than before — including government worker identification cards — and provides a system for voters without a photo ID to explain why in writing and then cast a provisional ballot.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a trio of democracy reform bills this week.

California governor signs three political reform bills

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.

The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.

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Gov. Ralph Northam used his executive authority to restore voting rights for felons, noting that Virginia is among the states that permanently strips such rights after a felony conviction.

Virginia governor restores voting rights to over 22,000 felons

More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.

In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.

Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.

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