Appeals Court Ruling Protects North Carolina Voters, Highlights Need for National Safeguards

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  • Dale Eisman

A federal appeals court decision restoring Election Day voter registration in North Carolina is an important victory for voters and voting rights advocates in the Tar Heel State and underscores the need for Congressional action to strengthen voting rights across America, Common Cause said today.

“This is great news. When citizens can register and vote on the same day, voter turnout increases, particularly among low-income voters and citizens of color,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport. “The court’s action preserving this option in North Carolina will help keep citizens from being shut out of the political process in this election.”

Until last year, North Carolina had some of the nation’s most progressive electoral laws, including same day registration and voting, early voting, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and others.  But after the Supreme Court, in Shelby Co. v. Holder, gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act, the state legislature passed severe new constraints on voting.

“The North Carolina law was recognized as perhaps the most regressive in the country,” Rapoport said. “It clearly was designed to make it more difficult for people of color, college students, seniors and others to cast ballots. That’s unacceptable.”

Rapoport said Wednesday’s ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals underscores the need for Congress to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act, a bipartisan bill introduced to repair the damage done by Shelby Co. v. Holder.

“Different courts now are imposing different standards on issues like Voter ID and Election Day Registration, in some cases removing state-imposed barriers to voting and in others letting those barriers stand. We need federal action to protect voters in every state,” he said.