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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. 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today stayed an appeals court order that restored same-day registration and reinstated out-of-precinct provisional voting in North Carolina in time for the midterm election. Those provisions are being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked them from taking effect, prompting the state to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has not yet ruled on the merits of the case.

The following is a statement from Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project:

"Thousands of North Carolinians will be left out of the upcoming election. More than 20,000 North Carolina voters used same-day registration in the last midterm election. While this order is not a final ruling on the merits, it does allow a law that undermines voter participation to be in effect as this case makes its way through the courts."

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed provisions of North Carolina's restrictive voting law to go into effect before the midterm election. Today's order restores same-day registration and reinstates out-of-precinct provisional voting on Voting Rights Act grounds.The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging those provisions, as well as the elimination of a week of early voting.

"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.

"This is a victory for voters in the state of North Carolina,” said Southern Coalition for Social Justice staff attorney Allison Riggs. "The court has rebuked attempts to undermine voter participation."

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By Mike Meno, ACLU of North Carolina Communications Director

“Why doesn’t the state of North Carolina want people to vote?”

That was the question federal judge James A. Wynn Jr. posed to state attorneys defending North Carolina’s restrictive new voting law in a federal appeals court in Charlotte on Thursday.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments today on North Carolina's restrictive voting law and whether key provisions can go into effect before the midterm election. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit out-of-precinct voting.

The groups sought to have the provisions halted prior to next summer's trial, but last month a judge ruled the law could go into effect, prompting the appeal. The three-judge appeals panel consisted of Henry F. Floyd, Diana Gribbon Motz, and James A. Wynn Jr.

"Tampering with the right to vote should not be taken lightly," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. "The restrictions imposed by this law stand to disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters. If this law is found unconstitutional following next year's trial, voters who were blocked from participating in the midterm election will never get that chance back."

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Thursday, September 25, on North Carolina's restrictive voting law. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) are challenging provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit out-of-precinct voting. Implementing these provisions would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act.

The ACLU and SCSJ argued the law should be placed on hold until trial next summer —and in time for the midterm elections in November —but a district court judge ruled the law could go into effect; the ACLU and SCSJ appealed.

"We are asking the court to protect the integrity of our elections and safeguard the vote for thousands of North Carolinians by not allowing these harmful provisions to go into effect," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.

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