When Army Spc. Timothy Patillo, 26, returned to Fort Bragg after an overseas deployment a month before the 2014 elections, he went to a North Carolina department of motor vehicles office to ask how to obtain a driver’s license and register to vote. He was given a list of documents he would need to provide, but wasn’t told of the approaching voter registration deadline. He returned to the DMV soon after that with his identification documents and signed up to vote. Days later, a notice came in the mail telling him he’d missed the voter registration deadline. Patillo would have been able to vote if, as in previous elections, North Carolina allowed same-day registration. But because the Republican-controlled legislature voted to eliminate same-day registration in 2013, Patillo was disenfranchised.
The elimination of same-day registration was part of a wide-ranging package of voting restrictions signed into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory two years ago. On Monday, civil rights groups will begin presenting their case to overturn those provisions in court.
The law McCrory signed also reduced the state’s early voting period by a week, eliminated the counting of ballots cast by voters out of their home precinct, and ended pre-registration for those aged 16 and 17. The restrictions included a strict government-issued photo identification requirement for voters that would have gone into effect for next year’s presidential election. Arguments over the ID provision will be considered separately from the other voting restrictions after the legislature unexpectedly softened the requirement last month.