Politics & Government

Cooper asks US Supreme Court to block ruling on elections law

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to block the effects of a federal appeals court ruling this week that reinstated same-day registration and out-of-precinct ballot casting for the coming November election.

The request asks for a swift review and decision in a case that could determine which parts of a 2013 elections law overhaul are enforced in the coming weeks as North Carolinians cast ballots in key statewide and local races.

In the request, Cooper and other attorneys representing state legislative leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory state that a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Wednesday “requires extremely burdensome changes to the rules governing North Carolina elections only 22 days before the start of early voting” on Oct. 23. “North Carolina is not prepared for the changes and will not have enough time to implement them in an orderly manner,” the emergency application for recall and stay of mandate states.

The attorneys for the state argue that the federal appeals court judges who issued the 2-1 ruling based their decision “upon deeply flawed and incorrect interpretations of the Voting Rights Act”

On Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts gave the NAACP and others challenging the 2013 election law overhaul until Sunday to respond.

Statements from the Rev. William J. Barber II, head of the N.C. Conference of the NAACP, and Penda D. Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project, offer a glimpse of what that response might be.

“There is no reason to upset the Court of Appeals decision,” Barber said in a statement. “The Fourth Circuit appropriately ruled that the lower court was wrong to claim that this massive voter suppression law would not cause irreparable damage. If any voter is denied their right to vote in November, that is irreparable.”

Hair added in her statement: “The Court correctly concluded that the elimination of same-day registration, as well as the prevention of out-of-precinct provisional ballots from being counted, have a disproportionate impact on African-American voters. These measures are part of a calculated effort by politicians to manipulate the voting rules for partisan gain, and there are no grounds for the Supreme Court to allow them to take effect this November.”

The federal appeals court ruling ruling this week is just a step in a protracted legal process. The NAACP and others have sued the state, asking for the 2013 law to be declared unconstitutional. They say it disenfranchises African-American, Latino and young voters. Because that can’t be decided until a trial set in July, the challengers asked to keep old laws in place for this year’s general election.