North Carolina Is Making It Harder for People to Vote, and We’re Pushing Back

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. 

Our case will focus on three provisions:

Early Voting.  Like most states, North Carolina permits early in-person voting. Through the 2012 election, North Carolina had a 17-day early voting period. It was disproportionately used by African-American voters, 70 percent of whom cast their ballots early during the last two presidential elections. Now North Carolina has slashed a week of early voting — a period during which almost 900,000 voters cast their ballots during the 2012 election. Some of the nation’s leading political scientists will explain that the loss of these voting opportunities will mean fewer votes and more congestion on Election Day. That’s exactly what happened when Florida cut early voting before the 2012 election when, according to one estimate, over 200,000 votes were lost

Same-Day Registration. Before 2014, North Carolina was one of about a dozen states that allowed voters to register to vote and cast a ballot in one stop to a voting site. Same-day registration is an important reform: States that have same-day registration have turnout that is, on average, 10 percentage points higher than other states. In the last two presidential elections, over 90,000 North Carolina voters used same-day registration. In particular, African-Americans relied on same-day registration at nearly twice the rate of white voters. For some voters, the opportunity to register and to cast a ballot simultaneously means the difference in voting or not.  But North Carolina has now eliminated same-day registration.

Out-of-Precinct Votes. If a duly registered voter appeared at the wrong precinct — whether by accident or due to poll-worker error — North Carolina used to count that voter’s ballot for all offices for which that person was eligible. This made sense. It doesn’t matter where you vote for certain statewide offices like senator or governor. Thousands of voters’ ballots were counted as a result. But the state has now ended that practice: Ballots cast at the wrong precinct — even if due to no fault of the voter — will now be discarded.

One provision of the law that won’t be discussed much at trial is the new voter ID requirement. That’s because, on the eve of the trial, the North Carolina legislature realized the obvious — that its strict voter ID law would undeniably disenfranchise thousands of registered voters — and backed down by establishing an affidavit procedure by which voters lacking ID will apparently be permitted to cast ballots. The parties are taking a closer look at the revised voter ID law and deferring judicial consideration of it until a later time.

Chief Justice Roberts recently wrote, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.” We agree. See you in court, North Carolina.

View comments (16)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

Who has the narrative here? The ACLU, with its actual facts and a thorough explanation, or you with your complete disregard of the substance of the article to further your agenda? As long as people with your lack of awareness exist, there will always be a need for lawsuits like this to defeat you.

Anonymous

Anyone who has been in NC and especially anywhere east of Raleigh would appreciate many there were not born in a hospital. They have no birth certificate. They do not travel. They are lucky if they have a job. Anyone familiar with NC politics would not be defending this crusade of McCrory and Pope to turn the state into a Republican paradise. In order to get that paradise, they had to cut early voting to cut out Democratic votes. It is a contrived need to make blacks from the state prove they aren't really wicked foreigners masquerading as Americans since they would not be insane enough to vote for them. It would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.

When the entitled Republican with the ball is losing, he may take the ball home or change the rules. They will soon own the whole playing field, too. If the people want a Republican paradise, they should be able to vote for it; even the despised ones who might vote Democratic.

Robert Cascadden

Really? What century are you from. I am from Hubert, NC. Guess what? Hospitals. Your entire post is like satire.

Anonymous

Weren't we all created equal? What happened.?

Anonymous

Weren't we all created equal? What happened.?

Anonymous

Could you provide an update to this case? Where does it currently stand?

Pages

Stay Informed