New Lawsuit over North Carolina Early Voting

Marc Elias: BREAKING: Filed an emergency motion to force NC to modify early vote plans for Nash, New Hanover, Mecklenburg, Guilford, & Forsyth Counties.

More info when available.

UPDATE: You can read the motion here.

On August 17, bombshell emails sent by Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Republican Party, came to light. In an email sent to Republican officials across North Carolina, Woodhouse encouraged recipients to “call your republican election board members and remind them that as partisan republican appointees they have [a] duty to consider republican points of view.” Ex. 4; Ex. 5. Woodhouse emphasized that, pursuant to SBOE’s direction, “counties only need to offer early voting at one single early voting site”; “[t]here is no requirement to be open on the weekends except for the last Saturday (until noon)”; “[i]f counties do not re-submit an early voting plan, the county will default to the one required site and no more,” encouraging default to Option E; “[m]any of our folks are angry and are opposed to Sunday voting”; and “[n]o group of people are entitled to their own early voting site, including college students.” Ex. 4. He added, “We believe [SDR] is ripe with voter fraud, or the opportunity to commit it. [SDR] is only available during early voting. We are under no obligation to offer more opportunities for voter fraud.” Id. In an email sent to Republican CBOE members and other Republican Party members on August 14, 2016, Woodhouse wrote, “Our Republican Board members should feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans, that are supported by Republicans” and that “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.” Ex. 6. 3 Even after the emails became public, Republican members on several CBOEs continued to press for plans that restricted access to early voting just as ways Woodhouse urged. A number of CBOEs either selected the statutory minimum hours for early voting or failed to take any action thus defaulting to Option E. See, e.g., Ex. 7 at 377:21-378:10 (Watauga); id. at 481:15-483:8 (Northampton). The New Hanover, Hoke, Pitt, Craven, Forsyth, and Richmond CBOEs all voted to eliminate Sunday voting. Id. at 60:14-19, 62:17-18 (Craven); id. at 132:20-133:11 (Hoke); id. at 160:3-161:22 (Richmond); id. at 234:4-11 (New Hanover); id. at 431:4-16, 434:10-435:3 (Pitt); Decl. of F. El-Amin (“ElAmin Decl.”) ¶¶ 3-4, 9 (Forsyth). The Wake, Mecklenburg, and Nash CBOEs voted to limit early voting during the first week to the CBOE office. Ex. 7 at 260:13-25 (Wake); id. at 275:18-21 (Nash); id. at 320:11-21 (Mecklenburg). On September 6, the private plaintiffs in this case sent a letter to the SBOE members and Director raising concerns about these and other early voting plans in light of the Fourth Circuit opinion. See Ex. 8….

The challenged plans are blatant attempts to make an end run around McCrory and this Court’s injunction. They seek, at least in part, to accomplish on a county-by-county basis what the Fourth Circuit barred the General Assembly from doing through SL 2013- 381: suppressing African-American voting strength by limiting access to early voting and SDR without legitimate justification. To “fully correct” and “eliminate[] root and branch” the State’s racially discriminatory effort to suppress the vote of African Americans, the Court should order these plans be modified as set forth below

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