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Voting Rights

Voting is the cornerstone of democracy. And yet, throughout our history we have excluded indispensable voices from this fundamental right. African-Americans, women and young people all risked their lives for and eventually gained the right to vote. Voter turnout in the 2008 election was the most racially diverse in American history, closing the longstanding gap between white and minority voter participation. In response to this historic moment, however, lawmakers nationwide have erected more barriers to the ballot box. 

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. —The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Social Justice will appeal last night's federal trial court ruling upholding provisions of North Carolina's restrictive voting law. The groups filed paperwork today announcing their intention to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 

"Thousands of voters in North Carolina could be pushed to the sidelines of the upcoming election because of this discriminatory law. That is wrong, illegal, and why we are appealing," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.

The ACLU and Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit the counting of out-of-precinct ballots. Thousands of North Carolinians, disproportionately African-Americans, have relied on those provisions to cast their votes in past elections.  The groups charge the law violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act.

"We plan to move as quickly as possible to ensure that the Fourth Circuit has time to correct this egregious error before the November election," said Southern Coalition for Social Justice senior attorney Allison Riggs.

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. —The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Social Justice condemned today's federal court ruling upholding provisions of North Carolina's restrictive voting law. The groups are analyzing the court’s decision and considering next steps.

The groups are challenging provisions that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit the counting of out-of-precinct ballots. Thousands of North Carolinians, disproportionately African-Americans, have relied on those provisions to cast their votes in past elections.

"The sweeping barriers imposed by this law undermine voter participation and have an overwhelmingly discriminatory impact on African-Americans. This ruling does not change that reality. We are already examining an appeal," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.

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2016 Frank Porter Graham Award Recipient: Bob Hall

Posted on in Voting Rights

Since 1968, the ACLU of North Carolina has recognized North Carolinians who have given a lifetime of extraordinary service in defense of civil liberties with our annual Frank Porter Graham Award.

This year we are proud to bestow that honor on Bob Hall, a longtime champion of voting rights and expanded voter participation in North Carolina. Make your reservations to the 2016 Liberty Awards or become a sponsor today!

Bob has worked with grassroots groups across the South since the 1960s, collaborating on wide range of social justice causes. As executive director of Democracy North Carolina, Bob has been a tireless advocate for free and fair elections, playing a key role in bringing same-day registration to North Carolina and working against the many voter suppression laws that have been passed in our state in recent years. He has provided expert testimony in court cases, consulted with officials in a dozen states on voting rights, and was the founding editor of the magazine Southern Exposure, where he worked for 25 years.

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We're excited to announce that Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, will be the keynote speaker at our 2016 Liberty Awards Dinner in Chapel Hill on Saturday, April 2, where we'll recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the cause of civil liberties in North Carolina. Dale supervises the ACLU's voting rights litigation nationwide, with active cases in over a dozen states throughout the country, including the ACLU’s challenge to North Carolina’s 2013 voter suppression law that reduces early voting and eliminates same-day registration.

You can nominate a deserving group, organization or individual for the annual Frank Porter Graham Award and other honors by filling out our online nomination form.

2016 Liberty Awards Dinner: Protecting Democracy
Featuring the Annual Frank Porter Graham Award and Keynote Speaker Dale Ho
Saturday, April 2 at 5 p.m.
William and Ida Friday Center
100 Friday Center Drive, Chapel Hill, NC
RSVP today!

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Tomorrow we will present closing arguments in our three-week trial challenging North Carolina’s repressive voting laws. Over the past weeks, we heard about the hurdles that voters faced to cast their vote under the suppressive law North Carolina instituted almost two years ago. North Carolina did away with the week of early voting in which 900,000 voters voted last presidential election, eliminated the opportunity to register and vote on the same day, and prohibited the failsafe of out-of-precinct voting. All three provisions placed a heavier burden on African-American voters than white voters, because African-American voters disproportionately used the eliminated voting methods.

We heard from Michael Owens, who testified that he could not reach his assigned polling place on Election Day without a car, but was able to get to a polling place near work. Because North Carolina eliminated out-of-precinct voting, he was turned away at the polls without having the opportunity to cast his ballot. In a state where there are deep disparities by race in car ownership, a history of segregated neighborhoods, and inadequate public transportation, the fact that Owens is one of many Black voters who is affected by this change should come as no surprise.

We heard from Jessica Jackson, a long-time voter who tried to register at the DMV after moving across county lines, only to find out at the polls on Election Day that the DMV had failed to transmit her voter registration. In previous elections, she would have been able to easily correct the DMV’s error using same-day registration. Under the new repressive regime, her vote did not count. The state’s error disenfranchised her completely.

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