Federal ruling blocks new NC voting restrictions, reinstates same-day registration

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Xpress file photo

Just weeks before early voting begins, a federal appeals court panel ruled Oct. 1 to overturn parts of North Carolina’s new voting law. The Fourth Circuit Court’s decision reinstates same-day voter registration and allows ballots cast outside a voter’s assigned precinct to still be considered in pertinent races.

However, it maintains the law’s reduction of early voting days by one week. The early voting period in North Carolina begins Oct. 23 and runs through Nov. 1. A new provision of the law requiring voter ID does not take effect until 2016.

The panel of three Democratic appointees ruled 2-1 to make the changes, arguing that the state law violates the Voting Rights Act by disenfranchising African-American voters.

A range of voting-rights advocates immediately praised the decision.

“We are pleased with the Circuit Court’s ruling today,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, in a press release. The president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and leader of the state’s progressive “Moral Monday” movement added:The evidence clearly showed that, under North Carolina’s voter suppression law, African Americans would have faced higher barriers to the ballot this November, and the court took an important step to ensure that this election will remain free, fair, and accessible to all North Carolina voters. Our fight is not yet over, though. We will charge ahead until this law is permanently overturned in the full trial next summer.”

“The court’s order safeguards the vote for tens of thousands of North Carolinians. It means they will continue to be able to use same-day registration, just as they have during the last three federal elections,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, in a press release.

The NC Board of Elections released a statement saying it expected an appeal of the decision to reach the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as tomorrow.

“We are concerned that changes so close to the election may contribute to voter confusion,” said  Kim Westbrook Strach Executive Director of the State Board of Elections. “More than 4 million voter guides have gone to the public with information contrary to today’s decision.”

Read an analysis of the decision by the Election Law Blog here.

Read the decision in its entirety here.

 UPDATE Oct. 9: The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in, overruling the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision.

Press release from the North Carolina Board of Elections:

Supreme Court: New voting procedures enforceable

RALEIGH, N.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court  today stayed a federal appeals court order that would have enjoined parts of North Carolina’s new voting law regarding same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. The vote was 7-2, with Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayer dissenting.

The hard deadline to register is Friday.  Election Day voters must cast ballots at their assigned polling location.

Attorneys for the state requested a stay on Friday after a split-panel in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered changes to election procedures just weeks before the beginning of early voting.

“Please encourage those in your community to register by Friday and to vote in the proper precinct on Election Day,” said Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach of the State Board of Elections. “We hope voters will make use of the record-setting number of early voting sites, beginning October 23.”

Voter registration forms are available online. Voters who have move to a new county must submit a new registration. Those who are uncertain of their registration status may view their voter profile online.

The State Board of Elections mailed more than 4 million voter guides to residences across the state before last week’s ruling. Voters may now rely on legal summaries appearing on page 3 of the voter guide.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/08/4218063_us-supreme-court-ruling-means.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning writer and reporter who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

6 thoughts on “Federal ruling blocks new NC voting restrictions, reinstates same-day registration

  1. Appeals Court OKs Same-Day Registration, Out-of-Precinct Voting

    Election Day Voter Registration from http://www.mytimetovote.com/election-day-registration.html

    Most U.S. states require voters to register before an election. Ten states plus the District of Columbia presently offer same-day registration (SDR), allowing any qualified resident of the state to go to the polls on election day, register that day, and then vote.

    Question and Answer

    So, if 40 states DO NOT have to offer same-day registration (SDR), allowing any qualified resident of the state to go to the polls on election day, register that day, and then vote WHY, MUST NC?

    As for prohibiting voters from casting ballots outside their precinct the reason is that not ALL precincts have the same candidates on their ballots and the voter would not be able, in some cases, to vote for all of the candidates they would be able to if, they voted in their correct precinct. Do they not wish to use their vote to the utmost?

  2. thatguy

    The reason provisions of the new voter registration laws have been blocked is because they have been widely viewed as an instrument to discourage certain groups who tend to vote Democratic from casting votes. These new laws have been enacted (or attempted to be enacted) by Republican held states seeking to hold on to and expand their power. While voter fraud has been cited as the reason for these restrictions, the facts are that voter fraud is almost non-existant. 4 people were prosecuted for voting more than once in 2008, and while some conservative writers exclaim that this number is “shocking” I believe it is only .003% of votes cast. Not really enough to sway an election. The number of votes which will be suppressed is expected to actually be much, much larger. If Republicans want to hold on to their power they might want to consider changing some of their policies. They can only cheat their way into government for so many years with changing national demographics.
    http://gawker.com/even-the-daily-show-was-shocked-by-this-racist-gop-lead-1451400551

  3. Report Documents Nearly 500 Vote Fraud Cases in NC Between 2008 and 2012, 475 cases of voter fraud in North Carolina were referred for prosecution, according to a new NC Board of Elections report obtained by the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina (after repeated requests), which undermines claims that voter fraud in North Carolina is insignificant.

    “This looks like an interim report, but it shows some disturbing numbers,” said Jay DeLancy, Executive Director of Voter Integrity Project-NC. “Because reports of voter fraud often don’t get referred for prosecution until the year after an election, the extent of potential fraud in the 2012 election still remains to be seen. The large increase in fraud referrals in 2012 over 2008 suggests that substantial fraud occurred in last year’s election, but the full numbers have not yet been reported. In any event, these numbers totally crush the lie that there is no voter fraud in North Carolina” See http://voterintegrityproject.com/vote-fraud_referrals/ for rest of article

  4. bsummers

    Like most things that come from the “Voter Integrity Project”, that report is a joke. Ignore their spin and distortion, and look at the actual data. And mind you, these are only cases referred for prosecution – we don’t know how many actually went to trial after being investigated by prosecutors, or how many were found innocent:

    http://voterintegrityproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/BoE-Referred-Vote-Fraud-thru-Mar-2013.pdf

    The majority of those cases are felons who were alleged by the BOE to have voted illegally, and the VIP-NC report even distorts that (big surprise). They say that it represents people “currently serving an active felony sentence”, but that’s not what NC law says. It’s still illegal to vote if you’re on parole or probation – suggesting that a fair number of these felons voting had already served their sentences and may have violated the restriction accidentally.

    The next highest category are people who were alleged to have voted twice – something that is pre-dominently done by wealthy people who own two homes and try to cast votes in two places.

    Only ONE (1) person was alleged to have cast a vote by impersonating someone else.

    None of this “substantial fraud”, which is mostly smoke, would have been stopped by the GOP voting restrictions. This is all about preventing people from voting that you think will vote for the other party, and it’s a betrayal of what America is supposed to be about that ranks in my mind as a form of treason.

  5. Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy http://www.nationalreview.com/article/368234/voter-fraud-weve-got-proof-its-easy-john-fund
    Woman Votes Multiple Times in Election 2012 but Denies Voter Fraud! http://youtu.be/nX6E2Ucv7S8
    Illegal Alien Mass Voter Fraud Discovered in FL… http://youtu.be/vaUsT9MLMlA
    Voter fraud caught on tape Videos on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=search_videos&search_query=voter+fraud+caught+on+tape&search_sort=relevance&search_category=0&page=

  6. bsummers

    More smoke, chaff, monkey dust and James O’Keefe-esque video shenanigans. No evidence that there is any significant voter fraud, or even potential for voter fraud in NC, of a type that would be prevented by the current GOP voting restrictions.

    They just want to chip away at people who might vote for the other party.

    They are traitors to America.

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