State of North Carolina

North Carolina S.B. 747 Challenge (Democracy North Carolina)

Democracy North Carolina v. Hirsch

Lawsuit filed by Democracy North Carolina, the North Carolina Black Alliance and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina challenging part of North Carolina’s recently enacted voter suppression law, Senate Bill 747. The plaintiffs specifically challenge provisions of the law that alter the voter registration process for same-day registrants, those who register to vote the same day that they cast their ballots during the state’s early voting period. The lawsuit brings claims against a provision that allows for the rejection of same-day registrants’ applications and completed ballots based on a single address verification notice sent via the U.S. Postal Service being returned as undeliverable.

Under the challenged provisions, same-day voters are not notified if their ballots are canceled or registrations are denied — nor are they given an opportunity to contest a denial — resulting in voters being automatically disenfranchised often through no fault of their own. The complaint notes that prior to S.B. 747, an individual would not automatically have their registration and vote discarded if two address verification notices were returned as undeliverable after the voter already cast a ballot. Previously, same-day voters also had the opportunity to contest the denial of an application at a hearing. The lawsuit also highlights a provision of S.B. 747 that requires same-day registrants to provide additional proof of residence documentation beyond a photo ID that other registrants are not required to produce. In particular, the law requires same-day registrants to produce proof of residence via a specific set of qualifying documents that indicate the voter’s name and residence.

The lawsuit alleges that S.B. 747’s same-day registration provisions directly target young voters, who disproportionately take advantage of same-day registration in North Carolina and among whom voter participation has significantly increased over the past few years. The complaint also points out that young voters “constitute the largest share of all recorded registration rejections for failed mail verification in the last decade,” given that they often have street addresses associated with colleges or universities that differ from their mailing addresses. The plaintiffs ask a federal court to prohibit the enforcement of the challenged same-day registration provisions and to declare them in violation of the First, 14th and 26th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. On April 2, the court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss the lawsuit. Litigation is ongoing.

Case Documents

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