On Monday, July 7, Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s Allison Riggs will partner with the American Civil Liberties Union to present arguments in federal court asking that North Carolina’s voter suppression law be placed on hold for the 2014 midterm elections. Riggs is the lead attorney in this case, League of Women Voters of North Carolina, et al. v. North Carolina. Plaintiffs are challenging House Bill 589, also known as the “monster voting bill” by voting rights activates because it’s been understood to be one of the most restrictive election laws in the country. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder will preside over the hearing, which is estimated to last 3-5 days.
“The provisions we are challenging have the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. If left standing, they will undo the progress that we have made to ensure that voters of color have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process,” said Southern Coalition for Social Justice staff attorney Allison Riggs.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina challenged the law in August of 2013 and the case is set for trial summer of 2015. The groups filed a preliminary injunction motion in May to block key portions of the law from going into effect prior to the trial.
“If this law is subsequently found unconstitutional, eligible voters who were denied their vote in the midterm elections won’t get a do-over. The damage will have been done. That’s why this law needs to be set aside. Voters have a fundamental right to participate in our democracy,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
The case, League of Women Voters of North Carolina et al. v. North Carolina, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on behalf of several North Carolinians who will face substantial hardships under the law. It was brought on behalf of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, North Carolina Common Cause, Unifour Onestop Collaborative, and several individuals.
The lawsuit targets provisions of the law that ban same-day registration, eliminate a week of early voting, and prohibit “out-of-precinct” voting. It also targets provisions of the law that expand the ability for partisan groups to send monitors to the polls and allows them to challenge voters. The groups charge that enacting 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 of 1965. Many low-income voters who work hourly-wage jobs cannot afford to take time off of work to go to the polls. In North Carolina, poverty is higher among African Americans, meaning that eliminating early voting will disproportionately impact voters of color.
Click here for a full run-down on the case.