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By Mike Meno, ACLU of North Carolina Communications Director

“Why doesn’t the state of North Carolina want people to vote?”

That was the question federal judge James A. Wynn Jr. posed to state attorneys defending North Carolina’s restrictive new voting law in a federal appeals court in Charlotte on Thursday.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments today on North Carolina's restrictive voting law and whether key provisions can go into effect before the midterm election. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit out-of-precinct voting.

The groups sought to have the provisions halted prior to next summer's trial, but last month a judge ruled the law could go into effect, prompting the appeal. The three-judge appeals panel consisted of Henry F. Floyd, Diana Gribbon Motz, and James A. Wynn Jr.

"Tampering with the right to vote should not be taken lightly," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. "The restrictions imposed by this law stand to disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters. If this law is found unconstitutional following next year's trial, voters who were blocked from participating in the midterm election will never get that chance back."

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

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

"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.

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RALEIGH – Readers around the country will celebrate Banned Books Week from September 21 to September 27 to draw attention to the threat posed by censorship. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which has helped communities across the state combat several book challenges in the past year, is calling on North Carolinians to use Banned Books Weeks to affirm their support for the freedom to read and to reject calls to deprive students of access to critically acclaimed works of literature.

“The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and all the other rights protected by our Constitution,” said ACLU-NC Legal Director Chris Brook. “We will continue to work with North Carolinians across the state to combat censorship and protect the freedom to read for students and young people whenever necessary.”

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported.

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