A bill that would require clerks of court to report to the State Board of Elections the reasons some people have been excused from jury duty has raised concerns from local officials and some senators who worry people could be improperly excluded from voting. Senate Bill 60, which was debated but not voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and a companion measure represent the latest effort to take people who are ineligible to vote off the state’s voters rolls. To demonstrate the need for the measure, Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, pointed to reports out of Ohio that non-citizens may have voted in recent elections. Her proposal is similar to bills that have been filed in prior sessions.
Articles about voting issues in North Carolina.
North Carolina: Republican lawmakers want Supreme Court review of voting law continued | News & Observer
North Carolina Republican legislative leaders want the U.S. Supreme Court to reject the new Democratic state attorney general’s bid to dismiss their appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down a voting law based on racial bias. Lawyers the General Assembly hired to defend the 2013 law approved by the GOP objected Monday to Attorney General Josh Stein’s petition last week and want the justices to continue considering their previously filed appeal. They say Stein lacks authority to step in because previous Attorney General Roy Cooper stopped defending the law last summer after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit found the law targeted minority voters. The legislature’s private lawyers continued the appeal.
North Carolina: Governor and Attorney General try to block US Supreme Court review of Voter ID law | News & Observer
Gov. Roy Cooper and state Attorney General Josh Stein have taken steps to end a U.S. Supreme Court review of North Carolina’s voter ID law, reversing a request made by former Gov. Pat McCrory in the final days of his administration. But it was not immediately clear whether the request by the two newly elected Democrats to withdraw the appeal would fully end attempts to reinstate voter ID and other limitations on voting. Cooper’s chief counsel and Stein sent a letter on Tuesday dismissing private attorneys who had been representing the state in an appeal of a ruling last year by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found key provisions of a 2013 elections law overhaul unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled the law targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision” to limit their participation in elections. But state lawmakers countered that the private attorneys represent the state, not Cooper and Stein, making their move to discharge the attorneys invalid.
A prominent law firm is disputing the authority of Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein to withdraw a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold North Carolina’s hotly debated voter ID law. An attorney with the Ogletree Deakins law firm contends that the Republican-led General Assembly hired it more than three years ago to defend the controversial measure on behalf of state government. That means the two Democratic officials overstepped their authority this week when they sought to fire the firm and to independently scuttle the appeal of last year’s lower-court ruling that rejected parts of the law as unconstitutional, Raleigh-based lawyer Thomas A. Farr said in a letter.
North Carolina: Gov. Cooper, Attorney General Stein withdrawing from appeal to U.S. Supreme Court on Voter ID case | Winston-Salem Journal
Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein announced Tuesday that they will no longer appeal a federal appeals court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s sweeping and controversial elections law. In a news release, Cooper and Stein said they were taking steps to withdraw a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. Former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had joined in a petition for the high court to hear the case late last year. The Republican-led State Board of Elections, its individual members and its executive director will remain in the case, according to the news release from the Governor’s Office. But Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said no decision has been made. The board will meet Wednesday and will likely take up the issue. “We need to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder, and I will not continue to waste time and money appealing this unconstitutional law,” Cooper said in a statement. “It’s time for North Carolina to stop fighting this unfair, unconstitutional law and work instead to improve equal access for voters.”
The state Supreme Court has restored a block on the legislature’s overhaul of the state elections board and ethics commission while Gov. Roy Cooper’s lawsuit awaits resolution. The court sided with Cooper in an order released Monday. It did not explain its reasoning. The decision is the latest legal twist in a power struggle between Cooper, a Democrat, and the Republicans at the helm of both General Assembly chambers. Cooper sued Phil Berger, the leader of the state Senate, and Tim Moore, the state House speaker, earlier this year over a December law that called for the merger of the five-member elections board and the state Ethics Commission, which administers ethics laws governing lobbyists, elected officials and government employees. At issue is whether the General Assembly overstepped its state constitutional authority when it adopted a law that establishes an eight-member board to oversee elections and consider ethics complaints and issues. The governor would appoint four members and legislative leaders would appoint the other four, with the board split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
North Carolina: Black voters in Jones County haven’t been heard, they say. Can a new lawsuit change that? | CSMonitor
Black residents of Jones County, N.C., have struggled for years to ensure local representation, some say, but they hope that a new lawsuit will finally bring results. On Monday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., joined with two law firms to bring a suit on behalf of black residents of Jones County, N.C. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that the county’s at-large voting system has systematically prevented black residents, who comprise almost one-third of the county, from electing the candidates of their choice to the county’s five-member Board of Commissioners. Since the five candidates receiving the most votes from across the county are elected to the board, the white majority can vote as a bloc to prevent black candidates from winning seats, the plaintiffs say. They argue that this election system has effectively sidelined the black community’s issues, since it is relatively easy to be elected without their votes. Instead, the plaintiffs propose creating single-member local districts, giving predominantly black neighborhoods a higher likelihood of electing their chosen candidate.
In a bid to create a better chance for black residents of rural areas to get elected to local office, a team of civil rights and private lawyers has filed what one prominent civil rights organization calls the first major voting rights lawsuit of the year. Attorneys from from the Washington-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and two private law firms filed the suit Monday in federal court in North Carolina. The suit alleges that the black residents who account for about a third of the population in Jones County, N.C., are prevented from electing candidates who represent their needs because the county elects commissioners at large rather than by district. The complaint alleges the at-large system prevents black residents from electing black candidates from their communities, and says the at-large system dilutes black voting power.
North Carolina’s new Democratic governor and the entrenched Republican-led legislature battled in court on two fronts Friday over efforts to restrict the chief executive’s ability to alter the state’s recent conservative direction. A panel of three state trial court judges spent three hours listening to arguments over whether to continue blocking a law requiring Senate confirmation of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet secretaries. The judges did not say when they would decide whether to continue blocking the law. Any order would be in effect until after a full hearing next month. Meanwhile, a revamped state elections board met for the first time Friday, hours after an appeals court temporarily reinstated a law stripping Cooper of his oversight of elections. Cooper’s attorneys are asking the state Supreme Court to step in and again block that law. The General Assembly passed the law requiring Senate consent to Cooper’s top appointees in December. It came in a surprise special session barely a week after Republican incumbent Pat McCrory conceded to Cooper in their close gubernatorial race and just before the Democrat took office.
North Carolina: Legal challenges leave future North Carolina elections in limbo | Carolina Public Press
The prospect for new state legislative districts this spring and elections this fall are dimming despite a court order, legal experts say. The situation is just one of several ongoing legal battles surrounding North Carolina elections. An elections schedule ordered by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in November requires new General Assembly districts to be drawn and approved by March 15 followed by a candidate filing period, primaries and a November election. The ruling came after a three-judge panel from the court ruled in August that nine North Carolina state Senate districts and 19 House districts were unconstitutional because they were drawn using race as the predominate factor. “This state’s citizens have the right to vote in districts that accord with the Constitution,” the court said in its August decision. “We therefore order that new maps be drawn that comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.” But U.S. Chief Justice Chief Justice John Roberts put the 4th Circuit decision and the election schedule on hold late last year by, adding the case, North Carolina v. Covington, to a conference by the justices on January 19. On January 10, the court granted a stay of the 4th Circuit’s order.