North Carolina’s process for challenging voters’ registration seems to harken to a bygone era when fewer safeguards were in place, a federal judge said Wednesday as she presided over a lawsuit that alleges voters are being purged unfairly. Lawyers for North Carolina countered that state data shows only a sliver of names have been removed from county rolls in the past two years – fewer than 7,000 statewide out of 6.8 million registered voters. The comments came during an emergency hearing over NAACP allegations that at least three counties purged voter rolls through a process disproportionately targeting blacks. Early voting is already underway in the critical swing state that the NAACP has previously sued over other voter access issues. So far, North Carolina’s black voter turnout has lagged the 2012 presidential election.
The NAACP says counties are violating federal law by removing voters less than 90 days before the election. However, state officials say the process complements federal law and preserves due-process rights.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said multiple times the challenge process sounds “insane.”
“This sounds like something that was put together in 1901,” she told lawyers for the state.