The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has sued the state and three county elections boards Monday over an alleged voter purge that disproportionately affects African-Americans.
Talking Points Memo reports that the important battleground state has put some 4,500 voters’ ability to vote in limbo by challenging their registrations. The NAACP alleges that the actions violate the National Voter Registration Act and the federal Voting Rights Act in their handling of the challenged voters.
“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. “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.”
The complaint alleges that in Beaufort County, Black voters make up 65 percent of the challenges even though the county is 26 percent African-American. The registrations of 138 voters were challenged based on a mailing campaign sent by one of the challengers, Ricky Radcliffe.
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. The report notes,
After an initial hearing, during which a person challenging a voter registration puts forward evidence to back the challenge, elections officials are required to notify the voter of a potential change to their registration status and request their presence at a second hearing with the local elections board, according to the lawsuit. Many of the challenged voters said they received no such notification, according to the filing. Some only found out their registrations were being challenged because acquaintances saw their name on the challenged list, the complaint said.
In the cases highlighted by the NAACP lawsuit, oftentimes, the voters whose registrations were put on the challenge lists had not moved out of the county where they are registered, had voted in past elections and intended to vote in November’s election.
The NAACP-NC wrote a letter to the state elections board raising these concerns earlier this month, according to the suit, but the state responded arguing that it in its opinion, it was acting in accordance with the federal law.
Monday’s filing also alleges a violation of the Voting Rights Act, given the removals’ disparate impact on Black voters.
The NAACP is asking for the court to halt the removal process, to restore the registrations of those highlighted in the lawsuit and also to see to it that the affected voters do not face any same-day challenges to their registrations at polling places on Election Day.
SOURCE: Talking Points Memo | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty