Federal Judge Rejects North Carolina's Request to Avoid Full Trial over Restrictive Voting Law
Allows Law to Remain In Effect through Midterm Election
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A federal judge today rejected North Carolina's request to avoid a full trial over the state's sweeping voter suppression law. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit out-of-precinct voting. The groups were in court last month to argue that those measures should be placed on hold prior to next summer's trial, and in time for the November election. The judge ruled the law can remain in effect until trial.
"If this law is found unconstitutional, North Carolinians whose voting rights were violated in the midterm election will have lost a critical opportunity to participate in our democratic process," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. "While we had hoped the court would recognize this irreparable harm, the ultimate goal is to see these discriminatory measures struck down. We look forward to making our case at full trial, which is something the state had sought to avoid."
The groups charge the law unduly burdens the right to vote and discriminates against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"Today is not the end of the fight to stop these discriminatory measures, which make it harder for all North Carolinians to vote," said Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation. "We are disappointed in the court's ruling but heartened that the government's efforts to avoid a full trial in this case were rejected."
The case, League of Women Voters of North Carolina et al. v. North Carolina 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. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
"There is still a lot of discovery to be conducted in this case, which the state has resisted providing at every turn. We look forward to gathering this evidence and presenting a fuller picture of the discriminatory effects of this law when we go to trial next summer," said Southern Coalition for Social Justice staff attorney Allison Riggs.