A U.S. appeals court on Friday struck down a North Carolina law that required voters to show photo identification when casting ballots, ruling that it intentionally discriminated against African-American residents.
The ruling is likely to be seen as a boost for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton going into November's election. The state is politically important as it does not lean heavily toward either Democrats or Republicans, and Clinton is heavily favored among black Americans over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The court's decision also canceled provisions of the law that scaled back early voting, prevented residents from registering and voting on the same day, and eliminated the ability of voters to vote outside their assigned precinct.
Critics argue that voting laws enacted by North Carolina and several other states are designed to drive down turnout by minorities and poor people who rely more on flexible voting methods and are less likely to possess state-issued photo IDs.
In its ruling, a three-judge panel at the U.S. Appeals Court for the Fourth Circuit said the state legislature targeted African-Americans "with almost surgical precision."
"We cannot ignore the recent evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history," Judge Diana Motz wrote.
Voting rights advocates heralded the decision as a major victory.
"This ruling is a stinging rebuke of the state's attempt to undermine African-American voter participation, which had surged over the last decade," Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. The ACLU was one of the groups that challenged the law in court.