Voting Rights Groups: Guilford Proposal to Cut Early Voting Violates Law
RALEIGH – Voting rights advocates are urging county boards of election and ultimately the North Carolina State Board of Elections to maintain or expand early voting opportunities when compared to 2012 as they develop their early voting plans for the November 2016 election. On Monday at 1 p.m., the Guilford County Board of Elections will consider a proposal that would eliminate early voting on Sundays and reduce early voting sites from 22 to 12, which would include the closure of several voting sites used predominantly by Black and young voters.
Less than two weeks ago, a federal appeals court ruled that North Carolina’s restrictive 2013 voting law, which had eliminated a week of early voting and other methods used disproportionately by African American voters, violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act because it intentionally discriminated against voters of color.
In a letter sent Friday, attorneys for groups who successfully challenged North Carolina’s voting restrictions in court said the Guilford County proposal appears to represent "intentional action” to suppress votes this November.
“We believe the action being considered by the Guilford County Board of Elections, and potentially others, violates the law,” the letter reads. “The Guilford Board’s drastic reduction in early voting opportunities can only be interpreted as intentional action taken to suppress voting this November, particularly among young voters and voters of color.
More than half of all North Carolina voters will likely use early voting this November, according to the state Board of Elections. In 2012, 70% of African American voters in North Carolina used early voting. The 2013 law reduced the number of early voting days in North Carolina from 17 to 10.
In Friday’s letter, the groups say that if adopted, the Guilford County proposal could result in further legal liability under the Voting Rights Act and United States Constitution.