Victory for Voters as Court Rules Against North Carolina Restrictions

A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that attempts by the North Carolina Republican-controlled legislature to restrict voting access in the state went too far as it overturned a lower court decision.

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Though it did not cast aside the entire set of measures established by the state, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the most troublesome portions of the law violated the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and would disenfranchise large numbers of African-Americans and other voters.

The decision comes just weeks before early voting in the state is set to begin ahead of next month’s elections, and though the court ruling did not object to the reduction of the early voting period, it said that the law’s termination of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting would put an undo burden on large portions of the voting community, specifically people of color and low-income voters.

“The right to vote is fundamental,” wrote Judge James Wynn in the majority opinion for the three-judge panel. “And a tight timeframe before an election does not diminish that right.”

“Whether the number is 30 or 30,000, surely some North Carolina minority voters will be disproportionately adversely affected in the upcoming election,” Wynn continued. “Once the election occurs, there can be no do-over and no redress. The injury to these voters is real and completely irreparable if nothing is done to enjoin this law.”

Civil liberty groups and voting right advocates welcomed the decision.