North Carolina’s Restrictive Election Law Approved by Federal Court

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The Federal District Court of Winston Salem ruled to uphold HB 589, North Carolina’s omnibus election law, something the League of Women Voters in the state said “is a profound disappointment for the state’s voters and for (the League.).

The comments came from Mary Klenz, co-president of the North Carolina League, a plaintiff in one of the suits – and she wasn’t alone in her disappointment.

“This North Carolina decision sends a dangerous signal to voters across the country, one the League is prepared to fight at every opportunity,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the national League.

“We’ve been fighting HB 589 for several years on behalf of the real voters who have been harmed by this restrictive set of election requirements,” Klenz said. “This decision is not the end, however. We will decide on next steps shortly.”

“Sadly, North Carolina was one of the first states to jump into action following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013,” said Klenz. “The state’s Legislature took advantage of the court’s gutting of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to roll back pro-voter election reforms by reducing the number of days of early voting, disallowing people from registering and voting on the same day, not counting votes that were cast out of precinct and ending the practice of pre-registering teenagers before they turn 18.”

MacNamara agreed.

“This ruling is a blow to the voters in North Carolina but also voters throughout America,” she said. “Based on the breakdown in the elections processes we have already seen in the Arizona and New York primaries, we are very concerned about Election Day 2016.  We fear many eligible voters will be harmed by the short-sighted, anti-voter changes being put into place here in North Carolina and around the country.”

She continued:

“Ultimately, the voters will decide what kind of democracy we will have – one with mounting restrictions aimed at minority voters or one with free and fair elections for all,” said MacNamara.

Klenz agreed:

“We are in this to win, which means continuing our work to expand and protect voting rights. We will stop at nothing short of vindication for the principle that every citizen has a right to vote. The League has fought for voting rights since 1920 and we’re not stopping now.”

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