For Immediate Release
Tyler Swanson, Tyler.Swanson@naacpnc.org
North Carolina NAACP Files Federal Suit Charging State Illegally Suppressed Right to Vote of Thousands of Black Residents
Seeks Immediate Injunction To Stop Coordinated GOP Playbook Effort To Purge Voters From Rolls
In At Least Three Counties, Voters Declared Ineligible Following Bogus Change- in-Residence Claims; Violates National Voting Registration Act
DURHAM - The North Carolina NAACP filed a federal lawsuit Monday seeking an immediate injunction to stop the state and various county boards of elections from illegally cancelling the registrations of thousands of voters who are being targeted in a coordinated effort right out of the GOP playbook to suppress the black vote in the state.
***PRESS CALL AT NOON***
WHEN: Monday, October 31, 2016, 12 pm ET
WHERE: 1 (888) 862- 6557 US Toll Free
1 (630) 691-2748 US Toll
Confirmation Number: 43725484
WHO: Rev. Dr. Wiliam J. Barber II, President NC NAACP
Attorney Penda Hair, Forward Justice
“I did not receive notice from the State or Beaufort County that my voter registration had been challenged, or that a hearing had been set to determine whether I would remain on the State’s list of eligible voters,” said Mr. Arthur, who is a plaintiff in the suit. “If I knew my right to vote was in jeopardy, I would do whatever I could to protect it. I want and plan to vote in the upcoming election, but I am concerned that since my registration has been canceled I will not be able to cast a ballot or it will not be counted.”
Like Mr. Arthur many of these voters simply moved to another residence within Beaufort County, and many others had not changed their residence at all, but nonetheless sometimes do not receive mail for various reasons. In Mr. Arthur’s case, he moved to a nursing home due to a leg injury, but remained in Beaufort County.
The en masse voter challenges in Beaufort County have disproportionately targeted African American voters, who comprise only 25.9% of the Beaufort County population, but account for more than 65% (91 of 138) of the challenges.
Among those is Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old African American woman from Beaufort County who has voted regularly for 24 straight years. Ms. Hardison, whose registration was upheld following outcry when her story was publicized and supported by the NC NAACP, is also among the plaintiffs in the suit.
Similar practices have occurred, and are occurring, in Cumberland County, where 3,951 registrations were challenged by a single individual as a result of returned mail from mass mailings. The bulk challenges are also taking place in Moore County, where a single individual challenger, N. Carol Wheeldon, submitted forms in July 2016 challenging approximately 400 registered voters. In Moore County, it appears the sole basis for all of these challenges was undelivered, returned letters from a mass mailing, which Ms. Wheeldon attached to her challenge forms in support of her claim that “[t]he person is not a resident of the precinct in which the person is registered.” The letters used in Ms. Wheeldon’s mailing were expressly marked “DO NOT FORWARD.”
Wheeldon is the secretary of the Moore County Republican Party and, according to the Nation, “has worked closely with the right-wing Voter Integrity Project, which has aggressively pushed discredited claims of voter fraud.”
“The voter purges have a long history of being racially-motivated and terribly inaccurate, said Penda Hair, an attorney for the NAACP. “It’s a timeworn GOP strategy to suppress the black vote that is being recycled in the run-up to Election Day.”
Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.