Same-day registration won't be allowed during early voting in North Carolina, and Election Day ballots cast in the wrong precinct won't be counted this fall after the US Supreme Court today blocked a ruling that had set aside parts of a 2013 election law. A majority on the nation's highest court agreed to halt the ruling of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which had decided in favor of setting aside the provisions. The decision means the full law will remain enforced while the state and civil rights groups that challenged the law prepare for trial next summer; the full law was enforced during the May primary as well. Early voting begins Oct. 23, and the registration deadline remains Friday, as originally planned.
The court's order was unsigned, as is typical in these situations. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, saying they would have left the appellate ruling in place. It's unclear how the other seven justices came down on the matter, other than that at least five formed a majority and voted in North Carolina's favor. Lawyers for the state argue that bringing back the provisions would cause voter confusion and trouble for local election officials to implement them again. Lawyers for civil rights groups and voters who sued say keeping the law fully in place would mean thousands of voters would be disenfranchised. They say black voters use same-day registration and out-of-precinct balloting at higher rates than whites. (Students have argued that the state's voting laws were "unconstitutional.")