The North Carolina Supreme Court said Wednesday afternoon the courts should take up the issue of early voting on the campus of Appalachian State, literally moments after the State Board of Elections had voted to restore the on-campus early voting site. However, the early voting site will remain open as the state elections board voted, unless the board meets again to cancel the site. The Supreme Court order came down just before 5 p.m., about twenty minutes after the state board voted unanimously to OK the site in a hastily called emergency meeting. Early voting is scheduled to begin in Watauga County at 8 a.m. Thursday. The latest developments follow a ruling last week in a lawsuit filed by a group of Watauga County voters that argued the closure of the on-campus site was a transparent attempt to reduce Democratic turnout. Wake Superior Judge Donald Stephens agreed with the plaintiffs, ordering the state elections board to adopt a new early voting plan for Watauga County that would include a site on campus.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
North Carolina: Early voting starts today, eligibility for 10,000 not verified | Winston-Salem Journal
The State Board of Elections will not be able to verify before the early-voting period begins today whether all of the nearly 10,000 names that it has flagged as belonging to possible ineligible voters are in fact ineligible, according to interviews with elections and transportation officials. Elections officials estimate that most are likely eligible to vote, but the uncertainty has led some state lawmakers to question why the verification process is happening now. The Winston-Salem Journal reported Wednesday that, according to the SBOE, a specific search of those 10,000 names on the state’s voter rolls turned up 145 that belong to immigrants in the U.S. under the federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides qualified applicants with a two-year reprieve from deportation. The number has been pared down to 119 after more research, said Josh Lawson, a spokesman for the SBOE. ”Zero” DACA license holders have cast a ballot, he said. Mike Charbonneau, the deputy secretary of communications at the N.C. Department of Transportation, provided information on where some of the DACA license holders registered to vote.
North Carolina: Elections polling site at ASU likely as appeals court lifts stay | Winston-Salem Journal
The campus of Appalachian State University may host a polling place for the early voting period. The N.C. Court of Appeals on Tuesday sided with a grassroots group of Watauga County Democrats that has fought for a long time to have a polling site on campus. The appellate court lifted its temporary block on a lower court’s decision that would have allowed the polling site earlier. There is still a possibility that the N.C. Supreme Court could upend the ruling, as the State Board of Elections, which is made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, had already filed an appeal last week with the high court. But what is certain is that the early-voting period begins Thursday.
A Wake County Superior Court judge has sided with a group of Appalachian State University students who were miffed that there wasn’t an early voting site on campus this year. Judge Donald Stephens on Monday kicked Watauga County’s plan back to the State Board of Elections for revision, ordered it to include “at least one” ASU early voting site, and agreed with the plaintiffs that the plan violated a constitutional provision against the discrimination of young voters. “I think it’s a great victory for voting rights,” said Bill Gilkeson, attorney for the seven plaintiffs, five of whom are students. Elections records show Watauga County has the highest percentage of student voters of any county in the state, while the plaintiffs’ petition for judicial review noted students make up 34 percent of the county’s population. “All credible evidence indicates that the sole purpose of that plan was to eliminate an early voting site on campus so as to discourage student voting and, as such, it is unconstitutional,” wrote Stephens in his order.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a brief, unsigned order reinstating provisions of a North Carolina voting law that bar same-day registration and counting votes cast in the wrong precinct. A federal appeals court had blocked the provisions, saying they disproportionately harmed black voters. In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said she would have sustained the appeals court’s determination that the two provisions “risked significantly reducing opportunities for black voters to exercise the franchise.” The case arose from a law enacted by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Legislature in the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 Supreme Court decision that effectively eliminated a central provision of the federal Voting Rights Act, its Section 5.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on Wednesday that means voters in North Carolina will not be able to vote out of their precincts on Nov. 4 nor register to vote and cast ballots on the same day. The ruling blocked a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Oct. 1 that reinstated same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct voting for the coming election. The justices offered no insight into their 7-2 ruling to uphold a district court ruling to let the November election proceed under the 2013 rewrite of the state’s elections laws. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented and issued an opinion outlining their reasons. They said they had no reason to disagree with the 4th Circuit’s reasoning that elimination of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting would limit opportunities for black voters to cast ballots. Ginsburg said the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had “worked to safeguard long-obstructed access to the ballot by African-Americans” by blocking such election-law changes in the South. But the court voided that “pre-clearance rule” last year in a 5-4 decision. North Carolina voting laws were changed weeks after the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act.
North Carolina: Supreme Court allows North Carolina to implement voting law for midterm elections | The Washington Post
The Supreme Court Wednesday night allowed North Carolina to implement for the coming election changes in the state’s voting law that an appeals court had blocked. The action means that the state can eliminate same-day registration and not count ballots cast by voters who show up at the wrong precinct. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had blocked both changes because it said they would disproportionately affect African-American voters. The Supreme Court’s order did not detail the majority’s reasoning. But Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have kept the lower court’s order in place. “The Court of Appeals determined that at least two of the measures — elimination of same-day registration and termination of out-of-precinct voting — risked significantly reducing opportunities for black voters to exercise the franchise in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Ginsburg wrote. “I would not displace that record-based reasoned judgment.”
North Carolina is moving ahead with plans to comply with an appeals court ruling that restores same-day registration and counting out-of-precinct ballots for the fall election, a state attorney told a federal judge Tuesday. But members of civil rights groups that sued to restore the activities told U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder the State Board of Elections has to do a better job of letting voters know they will be happening. The board’s website contains inaccurate information, including that “voters who appear at the wrong precinct won’t have their votes counted,” said Allison Riggs, a staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. She said that will cause “confusion among voters.” “These are things that can be easily changed and should be changed by this afternoon,” she said.
North Carolina officials, scrambling to comply with a court ruling that blocked parts of a restrictive voter law just weeks before the November election, were in federal court on Tuesday to detail a proposed overhaul of their election plans. North Carolina was ordered to restore provisional ballots and same-day voter registrations last week when a U.S. appeals court found some provisions of a wide-ranging voter law, with restrictions considered among the nation’s most stringent, could disproportionately harm black voters. State attorneys said they did not anticipate problems bringing back provisional ballots, typically cast by voters who went to the wrong precinct. But they told the court it could be difficult to electronically process voter registrations occurring during early voting.
Thousands of North Carolinians have already locked in their ballots for this year’s general election, courtesy of the state’s postal voting period that began Sept. 5. But for some who’ve tried, compliance with voting law has been an issue. By early October, elections officials had marked more than 80 absentee-by-mail ballots as invalid. In most cases, they simply lacked the signatures of two witnesses – a change due to the voting law enacted by the legislature last year. Previously an absentee voter only needed one witness signature. Now if the voter doesn’t have two people witness as the ballot and accompanying envelope are filled out, he or she must have the ballot notarized. Without those signatures, the ballots go to the dead pile.