NC’s voting battle is headed for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Thursday, September 25, on North Carolina’s restrictive voting law. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and the American Civil Liberties union (ACLU) are challenging provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit out-of-precinct voting.

SCSJ and the ACLU argued the law should be placed on hold until trial next summer —and in time for the midterm elections in November —but a federal district court judge ruled the law could go forward immediately; the ACLU and SCSJ appealed.

“Implementing these provisions prior to the full trial scheduled for summer 2015 would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters,” said Southern Coalition for Social Justice attorney Allison Riggs.

We are asking the court to protect the integrity of our elections and safeguard the vote for thousands of North Carolinians by not allowing these harmful provisions to go into effect,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Allison Riggs will present oral arguments in the hearing, along with Penda Hair, Co-Director of the Advancement Project. SCSJ represents the League of Women Voters, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, and other nonpartisan groups and individuals in the case. The Advancement Project represents the North Carolina NAACP, churches, and individuals.

The hearing will take place at the U.S. Courthouse located at 401 W. Trade Street, Charlotte, NC on September 25, 2014, at 1 p.m.

Background: North Carolina passed a restrictive voting law in August 2013. The ACLU and SCSJ challenged provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit out-of-precinct voting. The groups charge that implementing these provisions would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act.

North Carolinians use early voting in vast numbers. During the 2012 election, 2.5 million ballots were cast during the early voting period, representing more than half of all votes cast. More than 70 percent of African-American voters utilized early voting during the 2008 and 2012 general elections. Eliminating same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting also imposes hardship on voters.

In recent elections, North Carolinians could register, or update their registration information, and vote in one trip to an early voting site. In both 2008 and 2012, approximately 250,000 people did so. African Americans disproportionately relied on same-day registration in both elections. The new law eliminates this opportunity to register, effectively disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters.

The case, League of Women Voters of North Carolina v. North Carolina, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. More information is here: https://www.aclu.org/voting-rights/league-women-voters-north-carolina-et-al-v-north-carolina