North Carolina NAACP Files Federal Suit to Stop State Voter Suppression

By Sameer Rao Nov 01, 2016

In a federal lawsuit filed yesterday (October 31), the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP charged the North Carolina State Board of Elections with suppressing the votes of African Americans.

“The Tar Heel state is ground zero in the intentional, surgical efforts by Republicans to suppress the voice of voters," Rev. Dr. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP, said in a statement emailed to media outlets. "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 voter’s voice is unlawfully taken away. This is our Selma and we will not back down and allow this suppression to continue."

As The Huffington Post reported today (November 1), the complaint compelled an emergency federal hearing, which is scheduled for tomorrow. The lawsuit demands an immediate injunction to prevent local election boards "from illegally cancelling the registrations of thousands of voters who are being targeted in a coordinated effort right out of the GOP playbook to suppress the Black vote in the state," per the NAACP’s statement.

The lawsuit alleges that election boards cancelled registrations for thousands of voters on the basis of mail being returned as undeliverable to those voters’ residences. It’s an action that the NAACP says violates the National Voter Registration Act, which states the following: 

A State shall complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.

The NAACP argues that these efforts occurred too close to the November 8 election, and that many of the Black voters who were disenfranchised by the state’s actions either still reside at their registered addresses or moved within the county, which would permit them to vote.

The lawsuit comes less than two months after the United States Supreme Court struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law that, like the state’s registration cancellation measures, disproportionately affected African Americans.