Voting felonies dropped for 5 from North Carolina under plea

GRAHAM, N.C. (AP) – Five North Carolina residents accused of illegally voting during the 2016 election have had felony charges dropped under plea deals.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice issued a statement saying the five entered Alford pleas to misdemeanor obstruction of justice charges on Monday in Alamance County. Alford pleas acknowledge prosecutors have enough evidence to win conviction on a given charge.

The five originally faced felony charges of voting while serving probation. North Carolina requires convicted felons to complete any probation or parole before voting rights are restored.

The nonprofit organization said the pleas allow them to avoid prison time they could have faced if convicted of the voting charges.

A state audit of the 2016 elections found 441 felons voted before having that right restored. More than two-thirds were black.

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