vote2As voters in the state head to the polls today, parties in the federal voting rights cases are moving forward towards a trial on the remaining voter ID challenge, according to a report filed with the court yesterday.

In late October, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder denied the state’s request to dismiss those claims on the grounds that recently enacted “reasonable impediment” provisions mooted the constitutional challenge.  Schroeder rejected that argument, saying that the law’s challengers still had remedies available to them should they establish a disproportionate impact upon African-American and Latinos.

Per yesterday’s report, the parties are proposing some limited discovery with a trial on voter ID to proceed in late January, unless the plaintiffs decide to seek a preliminary injunction — presumably to block implementation of the photo ID law during the March 2016 presidential primary and perhaps beyond.

A ruling on the remaining challenges to the state’s 2013 voting law remains pending after being tried in July and fully submitted to Schroeder in August.

Speaking of voting changes, the Brennan Center of Justice has a new report out detailing progress states have made toward electronic and digital voter registration.

As noted there, states are increasingly (albeit slowly) moving in that direction. Five years ago, the Center found that 17 states electronically registered voters, and at least 6 states allowed voters to register online. Today, 27 states have electronic registration at the DMV (some of these states also offer it at additional agencies) and 26 states have online registration.  Looking ahead, five more states have authorized online registration and three have authorized electronic registration, but have yet to implement such changes.

North Carolina took the first step in 2006 when it launched DMV registration but has not moved beyond that point.

As discussed in detail in the report, states are finding that moving to digital saves money, boosts registration and improves the accuracy of voter rolls:

  • States continue to implement modernized voting systems. A total of 38 states now have electronic registration, online registration, or both. Electronic registration is available in 27 states, and 26 states have online options. In 2010, when the Brennan Center first studied these systems in depth, 17 states electronically registered voters, and only 6 allowed citizens to sign up online. As states continue to adopt modernized techniques, they speed up the process of registering voters.
  • Modernization boosts registration rates. In one data sample, 14 of 16 states with electronic registration saw sustained or increased registration rates at DMV offices through the 2014 election. For example, since Pennsylvania eliminated paper registration at DMVs in 2005, registration rates at the DMV5 have more than quadrupled. Online registration is also popular with voters. In 11 of the 14 states that had online voter registration in 2012, online registrations accounted for more than 10 percent of all new sign-ups between 2010 and 2012.
  • Electronic and online registration increase voter roll accuracy. Election officials in almost every state interviewed reported that both electronic and online registration made their systems more accurate because staff no longer need to interpret illegible handwriting or manually enter voter information, thus reducing the chances for errors.
  • Modernized voter registration systems save money. Not all states attempted to track cost savings, but of the 29 states that reported they did, there was unanimity that electronic and online registration reduces costs. Washington State, for example, saves 25 cents with each online registration.

Read the Brennan Center’s report here.



TVoting rightshe leaders of the North Carolina NAACP and Democracy North Carolina held a brief press conference outside Gov. McCrory’s office this morning to highlight their demand that the Governor explain the precipitous and troubling drop-off in voter registrations at state public assistance offices.

As was reported here and in several other places last week, a 1993 federal law mandates that state public assistance offices affirmatively reach out to clients with whom they interact to give them the opportunity to register to vote. Since the advent of the McCrory administration’s control of state Department of Health and Human Services offices, however, such registrations have dropped precipitously — from an average of more than 2,000 per month to an average of less than 700 per month.

Today the NAACP submitted a letter to the Governor on behalf the Forward Together Moral Movement asking two things:

1) That the Governor address the issue and explain what the heck has happened by this Wednesday, and

2)  That his office and that of DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos provide expedited responses to several demands for public records related to the issue — perhaps most importantly, any correspondence between DHHS headquarters and local public assistance offices related to the issue voter registration.

NAACP President Rev. William Barber explained during today’s event that the Governor’s response (or lack thereof) would dictate whether or not his organization would seek a federal Department of Justice investigation of the matter.

Let’s hope that, for a change, the McCrory administration treats the matter with the seriousness it deserves. As NAACP lawyer Al McSurely pointed out this morning, the rapid decline in voter registrations over the past two years has, by all indication, resulted in as many as 40,000 fewer lower-income people being registered to vote in North Carolina. This is obviously a huge issue that is especially troubling in light of the efforts of conservative lawmakers to advance the so-called “Monster Voting Law” that has erected several new roadblocks to voting in North Carolina.

Stay tuned.


Here’s the latest statement from advocates in response to this morning’s story about the remarkable crash in voter registrations at North Carolina public assistance offices since the beginning of the McCrory administration:



(Raleigh, NC) – Citing clear evidence that the state of North Carolina is failing its obligation to provide low-income residents with a meaningful opportunity to register to vote at public assistance agencies, today Democracy North Carolina, Action NC, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute (“APRI”) sent a pre-litigation notice letter to Kim Strach, Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections (“NCSBE”), as well as Dr. Aldona Wos, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”).

According to the letter, voter registration applications initiated at public assistance agencies have dropped dramatically since Gov. Pat McCrory took office. The number of applications originating from such agencies fell from an annual average of 38,400 between 2007 and 2012 to an average of only 16,000 in the last two years, a decline of more than 50 percent.

The notice letter—sent on behalf of the voting rights groups by attorneys from D?mos, Project Vote, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice—gives the state 90 days to come into compliance with the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”) or face litigation.

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Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Sometimes, one has to admit that the forces of the universe are possessed of a wicked sense of humor. Witness this story in today’s Washington Post and the new study on which it is based. According to both, preregistering teens to vote so that they become eligible upon turning 18 does in fact increase participation and turnout — exactly what advocates for the practice have been saying for years.

Here, however, is the LOL kicker from the Post story:

“You might think that anything that increases the turnout of young people would inevitably benefit Democrats, since young people lean toward the Democratic Party.  But that is not what Holbein and Hillygus found.  Although preregistration tended to add more Democrats than Republicans to the rolls — simply because more young people registered as Democrats — it actually reduced the Democratic advantage among those young people who actually voted.”

You got that, Senator Rucho? By repealing teen preregistration as they did in the Monster Voting Law of 2013, North Carolina Republicans quite likely hurt themselves.

As you will recall, when pressed for an explanation for the move to repeal teen preregistration, Rucho, the Senate architect of the proposal said that the old law had been “very confusing” to his high school-aged son. And while this explanation was widely dismissed at the time as a rather transparent bit of excuse making, the new study seems to confirm that maybe Rucho was being straight. After all, by all indications, failing to understand how voting and voting laws law really work is something that runs in the Rucho family.


Nuns tour 4There’s still significant hope that North Carolina’s new voter suppression laws will eventually be sent to the trash bin where they belong — either by the courts, future state leaders or both. For now, however, North Carolinians will have to make do under the current rigged regime if they want to make their voices heard.

So, this means the deadline to register for the November 4 election is TOMORROW — October 10.

Click here for the hows, whens and wheres and then spread the word far and wide.