N.C. NAACP sues three counties alleging voter suppression

N.C. NAACP sues three counties alleging voter suppression
November 03
09:30 2016



The N.C. NAACP is suing three counties in federal court, alleging that they are illegally cancelling voter registrations because of alleged changes in addresses, in violation of the federal National Voters Registration Act (NVRA).

With less than a week before the Nov. 8 general election, and with early voting ending on Nov. 5, voting rights advocates are calling the alleged practice yet another attempt at black voter suppression.

The civil rights organization filed both a lawsuit and an application for a temporary restraining in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District for North Carolina against the state Board of Elections on Monday.  At press time, a hearing was scheduled for federal court in Winston-Salem on Wednesday.

According to the application for a restraining order put forth by the N.C. NAACP’s attorneys, the NVRA “protects Americans’ fundamental right to vote by … requiring that states meet certain requirements before cancelling a voter’s registration on the basis of a change in residence. Specifically, states must either (1) receive written confirmation from the voter that he or she has moved to a different residence outside the county, or (2) send a prescribed notice to which the voter fails to respond, and then wait for two federal election cycles in which the voter does not vote. Only after written confirmation, or notice, no response, and the two-cycle waiting period, may a state proceed with removal from the voter registration rolls.”

The application continued, “The NVRA also protects access to the franchise by prohibiting any systematic program to remove voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election.”

The N.C. NAACP alleges that the Boards of Elections (BOEs) in Moore County, Beaufort County and Cumberland County “have cancelled thousands of voters’ registrations on the basis of an alleged change in residence. Those purges of voter rolls resulted from proceedings that were triggered by challenges filed by private individuals, based on a single mailing returned as undeliverable. In most cases, these cancellations of registrations were supported by no other evidence – and none were supported by written confirmation from the voters of any alleged change in residence or compliant with the NVRA’s notice and waiting-period provisions. In many cases, the North Carolinians purged from voting rolls through these proceedings still reside at the addresses where they are registered, or have moved within the same county and remain eligible to vote there. Nonetheless, single items of returned mail have resulted in cancellation of their registrations,” the complaint states.

And it has been determined that the majority of voters being removed from the county election rolls are African-Americans. At least 4,500 voters have been purged, 3,900 of them in Cumberland County alone.

The state Board of Elections counters that those local boards are following state statutes that authorize private citizens to challenge voter registrations on the basis of returned mailings. The state BOE confirms that “thousands of voters have been challenged in the past three months on the basis of returned mail.”

The N.C. NAACP is not only asking for a temporary restraining order to immediately stop the local BOEs from purging black voters before the Nov. 8 General Election, but also a permanent injunction to restore the voting registrations of all of those purged.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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