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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Voting Rights

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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Isabel Najera was excited to vote in her first election as a U.S. citizen in 2014. The North Carolina mother of four did everything right to cast a ballot that would count. She registered in time, went to the right polling place, and showed up to cast a ballot during early voting. But as she testified in federal court Tuesday, through no fault of her own, Isabel’s registration was lost and her vote did not count.   

Isabel is one of dozens of witnesses testifying this week and next in the trial over North Carolina’s voter suppression law, without which Isabel’s vote would have counted. The ACLU and Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions of the law that eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and a full week of early voting. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians used these voting options in previous elections before they were repealed by the state’s Legislature in 2013, in what many observers called the worst voter suppression law in the nation.   

Isabel was born in Mexico and came to the United States 21 years ago as a legal permanent resident. She worked as a migrant farm worker before getting a job with her local Head Start, teaching 2- and 3-year-olds life and socialization skills. While working, Isabel also earned her GED and eventually an associate’s degree in early childhood education.

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By Mike Meno, ACLU-NC Communications Director

The ACLU and other groups were in federal court for the first day of arguments against North Carolina’s 2013 voter suppression law, which many court observers have called the most restrictive voting law in the nation. Along with the ACLU of North Carolina and Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the ACLU is representing the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and other groups and individuals in a challenge to provisions of the law that eliminated same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct voting, and reduced the number of days when North Carolinians could vote early by an entire week. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, the majority of them African Americans, have relied on those measures to cast their votes in past elections.

The trial will feature dozens of witnesses who will explain how North Carolina’s new voting restrictions have severely restricted ballot access for the state’s most vulnerable citizens, including low-wealth voters, those with transportation challenges, and particularly African American voters. In the 2012 election, 900,000 North Carolinians cast their ballots during the seven days of early voting eliminated by the North Carolina General Assembly. Seventy percent of those who voted early were African American.

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By Dale Ho, Director, Voting Rights Project, ACLU

Today trial begins in our challenge to the North Carolina Voter Information and Verification Act of 2013, which election law expert Richard Hasen described as “the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades,” designed “to make it harder for people — especially non-white people . . . — to register or cast a vote.”

Along with our co-counsel, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the ACLU and the ACLU of North Carolina will be in court for the next two weeks challenging this law on behalf of the League of Women Voters and others. 

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