That fight began in 2013, when the state made cuts to early voting, created a photo ID requirement and eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and pre-registration of high school students.
More than half of all voters there use early voting, and African-Americans do so at higher rates than whites. African-Americans also tend to overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.
In July of this year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down major parts of the overhaul. The three-judge panel ruled those changes targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.”
Now, voting rights advocates say some Republicans will try to sidestep that decision on Thursday, when the State Board of Elections will consider new plans that technically follow that ruling but raise other issues.
The U.S. Justice Department, the North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and others brought the original case.
“The state did its best to restrict voting opportunities and the 4th Circuit shot that down,” said Allison Riggs, who argued in court for the League of Women Voters. “And now all that’s left is the counties to give it their best shot.”
Election authorities in North Carolina’s 100 counties are tasked with implementing the court’s decision.
Under the old law, there were fewer days of early voting but counties had to offer at least the same number of hours as the previous presidential election. The July ruling added days but got rid of that hours requirement.
Most counties came up with new early voting plans that have bipartisan support. But Riggs says in about a third of counties, the plans “range from outrageously bad to sort of bad to this is problematic and doesn’t make good sense.”
Republicans on local election boards in some rural, heavily African-American counties want to drastically cut hours and polling sites compared to 2012. Board members in three of those counties …