Politics

Judge Blasts North Carolina Voter Purges

| by Robert Fowler

A federal judge slammed a North Carolina law that enables widespread registration purges from the state's voter laws, likening the purging to Jim Crow laws. Early voting in the state has been contentious in this presidential cycle, with accusations of voter suppression targeting African Americans.

On Nov. 2, U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs deemed a North Carolina law that allows for voter purging to be unconstitutional under federal law and described the law as “insane.”

“It almost looks like a cattle call, the way people are being purged,” Biggs said, according to Slate Magazine. “This sound like something that was put together in 1901.”

Under North Carolina law, a state resident can gather rejected mail that was deemed undeliverable by the post office and submit them to courts and challenge the voter registration of the sender.

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The burden is then placed on the people who have had their voter registration challenged to appear before a county board of elections or submit a notarized form. If they fail to do so, their voter registration will be canceled and they will be unable to cast their ballot in an election.

Among those impacted is 100-year-old Grace Bell Hardison, an African American resident in North Carolina who discovered that her voting registration was being challenged just weeks before the 2016 presidential election, The Nation reports.

The majority of individuals who challenge voter registrations in bulk are registered Republicans, and the majority of people who have had their registration challenged or purged have been African American Democrats.

The North Carolina NAACP has challenged the state Board of Elections over the voter purges, deeming them racially discriminatory and ineffective in rooting out voter fraud.

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“Over 60 percent of the challenged voters are African American,” the NAACP wrote in a letter. “The challenge list includes 59 active voters, including 19 individuals who have voted in the last year.”

Almost 6,700 voters have been purged from the state rolls, the majority of them being African-American and Democrat.

After bashing the state law that had allowed for these voter purges, Biggs signaled that she would restore the voter registration to those who had been purged, although that decision will arrive several days from now, just as the Nov. 8 election day nears.

Outrage over these voter purges is occurring as the first week of African American early turnout for the presidential election in North Carolina has been down by 16 percent compared to 2012, The New York Times reports.

North Carolina is considered one of the most pivotal battleground states in this election and could help decide the election. There has been an argument over whether or not turnout is down due to voter suppression laws in the state or if African Americans just do not have the same level of enthusiasm for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as they did for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Sources: The NationThe New York TimesSlate Magazine / Photo credit: Tim Evanson/Flickr

Are North Carolina officials attempting to suppress African American turnout?
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