Thursday, September 25, 2014

North Carolina NAACP Today Argued Before a Federal Appeals Court that Voter Suppression Law Will Block Access to the Ballot this November


September 25, 2014


Contact: Victoria Wenger, Advancement Project 

202.728.9557 or



WASHINGTON - To ensure equal access to the ballot this November, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP today presented oral arguments before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Charlotte in their appeal of a district court's denial a preliminary injunction to block the state's massive voter suppression law from going into effect for the midterm elections. The North Carolina NAACP was represented by the legal team of national civil rights organization Advancement Project, the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and North Carolina lawyers Adam Stein and Irving Joyner. Lawyers argued that unless the appeals court reverses the judge's order and blocks the law, the right to vote may be out of reach for hundreds of thousands of North Carolina voters in November.


"This appeal is a crucial step in restoring the sanctity of voting rights in the State of North Carolina," said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. "As we argued in court today, the District Court's narrow reading of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) missed the mark of the law, and means that many North Carolina voters will face high burdens in order to access the ballot this November if the law is not blocked. This is why we are appealing the case. The VRA and the U.S. Constitution both provide protections to ensure that voters do not face undue hurdles on their path to the ballot box - particularly when those barriers tactically target voters of color, who have overcome a history of systematic discrimination and disenfranchisement. When anyone is denied their vote, our democracy is weakened. We continue to fight to make sure that is not the case in North Carolina during this election cycle."


The state's voting law, commonly referred to as H.B. 589, includes the elimination of same-day registration, limits on early voting, and the rejection of out-of-precinct ballots, among other provisions. While a full trial on the merits of H.B. 589 will be heard next summer, a preliminary injunction is needed to ensure these provisions do not limit voters from the ballot in this election. In addition to the provisions addressed in this appeal, next summer's trial will also address the law's restrictive photo identification requirement set to go into effect in 2016.


"Elections have consequences," said Kirkland & Ellis partner Daniel T. Donovan. "This November's will be no exception. As it stands, H.B. 589 burdens the ability of numerous North Carolina voters to cast a ballot. Those votes will be forever denied; those voters will have lost their chance to have a voice in this election. The harm is irreparable. A preliminary injunction is necessary to make sure that democracy is fulfilled in North Carolina this November. Ultimately, a full reversal of H.B. 589 is needed to ensure that elections are free, fair, and accessible to all in this state."


The legal action taken by the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP in this appeal is coupled with broad grassroots efforts to mobilize voters across the state as part of theForward Together Moral Movement.


"For the state to argue that there is not enough time to correct an unconstitutional law is both illogical and ahistorical," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the North Carolina NAACP. "The evidence and the courts have said that African Americans will be discriminatorily burdened because of the changes this law imposes. We believe there should be an injunction granted, and voting procedures in North Carolina should return to the status quo prior to the confusion caused by the rapid and irregular passage of H.B. 589. Through litigation in the courts and a movement in the streets, we will keep fighting to ensure North Carolina's regressive voting law is permanently overturned and the voices of all voters in our state are heard. Our mission builds on the legacy of countless civil rights leaders who have come before us, who fought to make sure all people are treated equally in our democracy. There is no greater assessment of our equal citizenship than equal access to the ballot. We will continue our fight until the right to vote is secured and realized for all North Carolinians."



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