State of North Carolina

North Carolina S.B. 747 Challenge (DNC)

Democratic National Committee v. North Carolina State Board of Elections

Lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee and the North Carolina Democratic party challenging multiple provisions of North Carolina’s recently enacted voter suppression law, Senate Bill 747. The plaintiffs specifically challenge provisions of the law that impose new barriers and requirements for same-day voters, those who register to vote the same day that they cast their ballots during the state’s early voting period. The plaintiffs bring claims against a provision that requires same-day registrants to provide additional 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 plaintiffs also challenge a separate provision that allows for the rejection of a same-day registrant’s application and completed ballot based on a single address verification notice sent via the U.S. Postal Service being returned as undeliverable. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs highlight that non-same-day registrants are sent two address verifications notices instead of one. 

The complaint notes that the law does not provide same-day registrants the opportunity to contest the automatic denial of their registration and removal of their ballots from the official count, while non-same-day registrants are afforded the chance to appeal a denial of their registration. In addition to these changes to same-day registration procedures, the plaintiffs assert claims against a provision of S.B. 747 that moves up the absentee ballot receipt deadline (for ballots that are postmarked by Election Day) from three days after the election to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day proper. At the same time, the law increases the time for challenging absentee ballots to five days after Election Day. Lastly, the plaintiffs challenge a portion of the law that empowers partisan poll observers to move freely about a polling place with fewer regulations and restrictions. 

The plaintiffs allege that the challenged provisions burden the right to vote in violation of the First and 14th Amendments as well as the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs also contend that certain parts of the law violate the North Carolina Constitution’s Law of the Land Clause and Free Elections Clause as well as a provision of the federal Civil Rights Act that prohibits election officials from applying different standards to individuals who reside within the same area, such as a county. Additionally, the plaintiffs argue that portions of S.B. 747 violates the Help America Vote Act “because it does not establish a free access system (such as a website or a toll-free phone number) allowing for the tracking of” retrievable ballots, which are a type of provisional ballot that same-day registrants must utilize under the new law. Finally, the lawsuit claims that the portion of the law governing poll observer conduct violates Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which protects voters from intimidation. The plaintiffs ask the court to temporarily and permanently block the enforcement of the challenged provisions. On Jan. 21. 2024, the district court temporarily blocked enforcement of the undeliverable mail provision until the state can create a process for voters to be notified and have an opportunity to be heard prior to their registration being denied.

On Jan. 21, 2024, a judge temporarily blocked S.B. 747’s undeliverable mail provision and ordered North Carolina to provide same-day voters who fail the address verification process with the chance to be notified and heard before their ballots are removed from the official count. On April 10, the court granted the plaintiffs and defendants’ joint motion to stay proceedings.

STATUS: Litigation is temporarily paused. S.B. 747’s undeliverable mail provision remains blocked.

Case Documents

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