@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Court restores voters who were purged from rolls

Posted November 4
Updated November 5

— North Carolina must allow voters whose registrations were challenged by activists in Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties to vote, a federal judge ruled Friday afternoon.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs also ordered the state to stop using the challenge process in question during the 90-day period before elections. Any voters who were removed in the three counties due such challenges, she said, should be restored and allowed to vote in this election, even if they were already turned away.

"The Court concludes that the balance of the equities and public interest factors weigh decidedly in favor of protecting eligible voters who are being removed from the voter rolls and having their registrations canceled based on a single mailing returned undeliverable," Biggs wrote, adding that was particularly so "where, as in this case, the voter is often unaware that the registration is being challenged."

Legally speaking, Biggs' order is a temporary block. A full trial on the issue will be held after the election. Between 3,500 and 4,000 voters will be affected by this decision.

Individual plaintiffs whose registration had been challenged and the state chapter of the NAACP filed suit challenging the process used to remove the voters. Under that law, any voter can challenge another voter's registration if they live in the same county. That challenge results in a hearing where the voter who is challenged can present evidence of his or her residence. Local elections officials then make the decision as to whether to remove a voter.

At a hearing earlier this week, Biggs described that process as "insane," and her ruling curbs its use going forward. During the trial, there was evidence some of the mailings used to create the challenge were sent to the wrong address, while others were evacuated due to Hurricane Matthew. Still others moved within the county but were still eligible to vote. But county boards upheld those challenges because the voters in question didn't attend a hearing.

"We are working quickly to establish the procedures necessary to comply with the court order between now and Election Day," said Kim Strach, director of the N.C. State Board of Elections.

Advocates who brought the suit said they were pleased with the ruling.

"This emergency injunction will help make sure not a single voter’s voice is unlawfully taken away," said the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP. "The NAACP is defending the rights of all North Carolinians to participate in this election, and we will not back down and allow this suppression to continue."

Barber also described the process as a "race-driven" attempt to discourage black voting.

James Brower, an army veteran and voter whose registration was challenged, spoke to reporters on a conference call.

"I was denied my right to vote and it has been restored," Brower said.

20 Comments

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  • Susan Eaton Nov 5, 10:10 p.m.
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    in this instance, he is correct. The voter challenges are not and have nothing to do with voter ID laws.

  • Roger Chance Nov 5, 9:43 p.m.
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    You so funny. Educate yourself as to not appear so short on facts.

  • Roger Chance Nov 5, 9:41 p.m.
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    Why should have to do anything but show up and get a ballot? Demonrats and the Right Reverend Omar the tent maker Barber are corrupting the legal process.

  • Susan Eaton Nov 5, 12:07 p.m.
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    the address on the voter's registration was accurate. It was the challenger, Mr. huber, who had the inaccurate address as the basis for his challenge, causing the disenfranchisement for invalid reasons.

  • Randall Lamm Nov 5, 11:50 a.m.
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    When voters do not notify the board of elections of a change in their address (for whatever reasons), that is the VOTERS fault.
    Personal responsibility. A novel idea.

  • Randall Lamm Nov 5, 11:49 a.m.
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  • Drew Savicki Nov 5, 11:45 a.m.
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    Voter ID does not stop the state from illegally removing people's names from the voter rolls. This is a clear cut case of voter suppression.

  • Randall Lamm Nov 5, 11:30 a.m.
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    If voting was really as important to some of these people as it is to me, THEY would make sure that their status was in order prior to elections.
    Voter ID could prevent a lot of these problems.
    Being RESPONSIBLE for your own actions is the key here.

  • Susan Eaton Nov 5, 11:10 a.m.
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    in the article referencing the outcome of the review of 29, none were dead, 8 were already being removed by the county, one was a person never on the rolls to begin with, and the remainder were on incorrect address on the part of the individual making the challenge, Mr. Huber.

  • Susan Eaton Nov 5, 11:07 a.m.
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    the mechanism for notifying someone they were to have a hearing was a notice in the paper. Many don't subscribe to a written copy of the newspaper anymore. They would have only realized they were not allowed to vote on when they went to their polling place. This law needs considerable revision.

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