Free and Proper Elections

NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

Free and Proper Elections - NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

Court Protects Two Safety-Net Provisions in Election Law that Save Thousands of Voters

In a significant decision this afternoon, the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a ruling by federal District Court Justice Thomas Schroeder that would have repealed same-day registration during early voting and out-of-precinct voting on Election Day.

The two provisions were in place for the March and June 2016 primaries and, because of today’s order, they will remain in place until the Fourth Circuit makes its final decision in the appeal of Schroeder’s ruling. Plaintiffs seeking an appeal include the NC NAACP, NC League of Women Voters, A. Philip Randolph Institute, and US Justice Department.

Today’s stay order is here:

Democracy North Carolina documented the impact of the two provisions in a report about the March 2016 primary and in a declaration filed with Fourth Circuit with the request for the stay.  In March’s relative low-turnout election, the two provisions saved more than 29,000 voters who would have otherwise been silenced.  Democracy NC’s report for the March primary is here:

Same-day registration is often used by voters who believe they registered through NC’s Division of Motor Vehicles but then learn their name is not on the registration rolls when they show up to vote. Out-of-precinct voting is often used by voters on Election Day because of their tight schedule or because it is closer to their workplace or school than their home precinct’s polling place.  Both provisions have historically been disproportionately used by people of color and young voters in North Carolina.

Democracy North Carolina applauds the order of the Fourth Circuit, which indicates the judges were convinced that the plaintiffs have a strong chance of winning their case and that a significant number of voters would be irreparably harmed if the stay was not ordered.

“The court’s order keeps two safety-net provisions in place that saved more than 29,000 voters from being silenced in North Carolina’s 2016 presidential primary and that will likely save over 100,000 voters in the fall election,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina.  In 2008 and in 2012, more than 110,000 voters successfully used same-day registration during early voting and out-of-precinct voting on Election Day to have their votes count.

Hall noted that it’s difficult to put a hard number of how many voters will be disenfranchised by the implementation of NC’s photo ID law, but we have clear evidence of how many voters use same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting in North Carolina’s low-turnout and high-turnout elections.

Two weeks ago, Democracy North Carolina filed an amicus brief in the appeal to the Fourth Circuit, which can be found here:

For more data or comment, please contact:

Bob Hall
Democracy North Carolina
Direct line:  919-489-1931

Category: Political News

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