The Latest: Justice Department warns about voter challenges
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – The Latest on a legal fight over challenges to voter registration in North Carolina (all times local):
A federal judge who’s presiding over a lawsuit on voter challenges in North Carolina says the state’s process for taking voters off the rolls seems like something from a bygone era.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs was holding an emergency hearing Wednesday on NAACP arguments that several local election boards have improperly purged voter rolls in a process that disproportionately targets blacks.
The NAACP says Beaufort, Cumberland and Moore counties removed thousands of voters from the rolls based on undelivered mailings by third-party activists.
When mail sent to an address is returned as undeliverable, the law says county boards can accept that as evidence that the voter no longer lives there.
Hearing how the process works, Biggs remarked: “This sounds like something that was put together in 1901.” She described the process as “insane.”
The Justice Department says several North Carolina counties apparently violated federal procedures for challenging the registration of numerous voters.
North Carolina’s chapter of the NAACP argued at an emergency hearing Wednesday that several local election boards have improperly purged voter rolls in a process that disproportionately targets blacks.
Their lawsuit alleges that Beaufort, Cumberland and Moore counties removed thousands of voters from the rolls based on undelivered mailings by third-party activists.
The Justice Department noted in a court filing late Tuesday that counties need more evidence than a returned piece of mail, and that federal law bars systematic removals within 90 days of the election.
The Justice Department also says people can’t be removed from voter rolls for moving within the same county. The NAACP alleges some voters are being purged for that reason.
North Carolina’s chapter of the NAACP will be in federal court as it tries to stop local election boards from purging voter rolls through a process that the group says disproportionately targets blacks.
The emergency hearing on the lawsuit will be Wednesday in Winston-Salem.
Voters are being removed because of challenges filed by individuals, which the NAACP says is illegal under federal law less than 90 days before an election. However, state officials say the process is legal under state law.
Early voting has already begun in North Carolina, a critical swing state that the NAACP has taken to court previously over issues such as voter identification.
The group’s lawsuit zeroes in on Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties, where individuals have challenged thousands of voters’ names.
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