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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 Supreme Court has declined to review a federal appeals court decision holding that North Carolina’s 2013 election law —which imposed a voter ID requirement, cut a week of early voting, and eliminated same-day registration — intentionally discriminates against African-Americans. North Carolina has now exhausted all avenues of appeal.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged the law, which was struck down by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016. In early January, the state sought Supreme Court review, but the newly elected governor moved to drop the petition, prompting the legislators who passed the measure to try and intervene.

“This law, enacted with what the appeals court called discriminatory intent and ‘almost surgical precision’ targeting African-American voters, is meeting its much-deserved demise,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing.”

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RALEIGH – Ahead of tomorrow’s election, the ACLU of North Carolina is calling on officials across the state to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot without facing illegal or unnecessary barriers.

“We call on all officials to respect the law and protect the right to vote for all eligible voters, and we condemn any efforts to suppress the vote,” said Karen Anderson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. “We stand ready with many partners across the state to protect North Carolinians’ right to vote on Election Day and fight any barriers to the ballot.”

Voters who have questions or any issues with casting their ballot are encouraged to contact the ACLU of North Carolina or call 1-888-OUR-VOTE.

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The ACLU and other groups have fought hard to ensure that every eligible voter in North Carolina is able to vote. It is more important than ever that you cast a ballot and make your voice heard.

Follow these five quick tips to make sure your vote is counted this November:

  • Get registered at your current address. Check your voter registration status by visiting the North Carolina State Board of Elections website or calling 866-522-4723. The regular deadline to register is Friday, October 14. You will also have an opportunity to register during early voting beginning October 20. NOTE: In response to Hurricane Matthew, the State Board of Elections has announced that applications with October 14 or an earlier date next to the signature will be accepted if they are received on or before Wednesday, Oct. 19. Read the SBOE memo for more details.
  • Same-day registration in effect. You will also be able to register, or update your registration, at polling locations during early voting hours. Note: You cannot register to vote at the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8.
  • No ID required. North Carolina's unconstitutional voter ID requirement was struck down by the courts. Most people do not need ID to vote. Visit NCvoter.org for more details.
  • Be informed. See how your state representatives voted on civil liberties by reviewing our 2016 Legislative Report Card.
  • Vote early. Early voting runs from Thursday, October 20, to Saturday, November 5. Locate your polling place and note the hours of operation by calling the state Board of Elections or visiting their website.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. Make sure that politicians hear your voice loud and clear this year by taking the time to register and vote.

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today denied North Carolina’s request to stay a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state’s restrictive voting law.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged the law, charging it discriminates against African-American votersand unduly burdens the right to vote, in violation of the U.S Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed the law was enacted “with discriminatory intent,” against African Americansand issued a sweeping ruling on July 29 that blocked voter ID and restored a week of early voting, same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct provisional voting.

“The Supreme Court was correct to deny North Carolina’s last-ditch effort to undermine African-American voter participation in the November election. This ruling means that thousands of voters who would have been disenfranchised will now be able to participate in the presidential election,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Southern Coalition for Social Justice represent 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.

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RALEIGH – Voting rights advocates are urging county boards of election and ultimately the North Carolina State Board of Elections to maintain or expand early voting opportunities when compared to 2012 as they develop their early voting plans for the November 2016 election. On Monday at 1 p.m., the Guilford County Board of Elections will consider a proposal that would eliminate early voting on Sundays and reduce early voting sites from 22 to 12, which would include the closure of several voting sites used predominantly by Black and young voters.

Less than two weeks ago, a federal appeals court ruled that North Carolina’s restrictive 2013 voting law, which had eliminated a week of early voting and other methods used disproportionately by African American voters, violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act because it intentionally discriminated against voters of color.

In a letter sent Friday, attorneys for groups who successfully challenged North Carolina’s voting restrictions in court said the Guilford County proposal appears to represent "intentional action” to suppress votes this November.

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