The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, along with a handful of individual voters, sued the state’s elections board and three county elections boards Monday over an alleged voter purge that it claims disproportionately affected African Americans. Some 4,500 voters’ ability to vote is in limbo, the complaint alleges, due to the efforts by a few individuals to challenge their registrations. The NAACP-NC accused state and local officials of violating the National Voter Registration Act and the federal Voting Rights Act in their handling of the challenged voters. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. “The Tar Heel state is ground zero in the intentional, surgical efforts by Republicans to suppress the voice of voters,” NAACP-NC President Rev. William Barber II said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The NAACP is defending rights of all North Carolinians to participate in this election. We’re taking this emergency step to make sure not a single voters’ voice is unlawfully taken away. This is our Selma and we will not back down and allow this suppression to continue.”
In one of the counties, Beaufort County, black voters make up 65 percent of the challenges even though the county is 26 percent African American, according to the complaint. The registrations of 138 voters were challenged based on a mailing campaign sent by one of the challengers, Ricky Radcliffe, when he was running for mayor in 2015, according to the lawsuit. The list of challenged voters was made up of individuals who were supposedly sent the mailers and they were returned as undeliverable, the complaint said.
In Moore County, 400 voters’ registrations were challenged in a similar fashion by a single individual, N. Carol Wheeldon, according to the lawsuit. Her mailers said explicitly “DO NOT FORWARD,” the complaint said. Undeliverable mailers also led to nearly 4,000 voters being put on a challenged list in Cumberland County, the lawsuit alleged, and the county board of elections sought to move forward with the process to remove about 3,500 of them from the rolls.