North Carolina Voter Assistance Limitations Challenge
Disability Rights North Carolina v. North Carolina State Board of Elections
Lawsuit filed in federal court by Disability Rights North Carolina challenging North Carolina state laws that limit assistance available to voters with disabilities who require aid in obtaining and filling out absentee ballots. The challenged statutes specifically restrict voters with disabilities’ choice of an assistant to aid with requesting and completing absentee ballots to voters’ close relatives or legal guardians. The plaintiff alleges that these requirements are exceptionally unfair and burdensome to voters with disabilities who are patients in facilities such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or rest homes since they are prohibited from relying on facility staff for assistance. The lawsuit claims that these laws violate Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which mandates that individuals with disabilities “be given assistance by a person of the voter’s choice.”
On July 11, the court permanently blocked the North Carolina laws that prevent voters with disabilities from receiving assistance with requesting and completing absentee ballots from the person of their choice, finding the laws in violation of the VRA. This means that voters with disabilities can now receive assistance from anyone they choose, not just a close relative or legal guardian, in future primary and general elections.