Voter ID laws Impact the Most Vulnerable: Time to fight back!

by Shoshannah Sayers, Deputy Director of Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Voting is a right, not a privilege. Somehow, this basic American truth is being forgotten in our frenzy to battle “voter fraud,” a phenomenon that exists more in the minds of the paranoid than in the voting booths. Voter ID requirements are one of the newest forms of voter suppression spreading through the states. Women and people of color are widely acknowledged to be the communities most adversely impacted by Voter ID laws. These communities must be at the forefront of the battle against discriminatory voter ID laws that will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of North Carolina voters.  To support community inclusion and access to information, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice invites you to join a FREE webinar to discuss strategies to combat Voter ID and other forms of voter suppression in North Carolina and throughout the South.

Please join the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Blueprint NC, State Voices, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Lawand Southern Leaders for Voting Rights (SOLVE) for a free virtual voter ID strategy discussion at the outset of 2014 state legislative sessions. This webinar is free and open to the public. Information is designed for community organizers and concerned citizens looking to find concrete ways to make a difference in the fight for access to the ballot for all eligible voters.

I tried to vote today

SCSJ Executive Director Anita Earls will explain the history and context of voter ID so that participants can understand the precise manner that voter ID laws are used to suppress the vote.

The webinar will also include first-hand accounts of how Voter ID laws are being fought on the ground in Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. We will discuss lessons learned, best practices, and how to effectively put together grassroots movements in our own communities.

Voter ID is just one of the tools in the arsenal of voter suppression tactics being deployed in North Carolina and beyond. Understanding voter ID is an excellent first step toward understanding and organizing against all forms of voter suppression. We hope you are able to join us on Tuesday, January 28 for this free 2-hour webinar. Click here to register!

Redistricting: The Hidden Side of Voter Suppression

by Shoshannah Sayers, Deputy Director SCSJ

On Monday, January 6, 2014 the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) presented oral arguments before the North Carolina Supreme Court, urging the court to find that the 2011 redistricting maps are unconstitutional and racially discriminatory.

NC Gerrymander Map
NC Gerrymander Map

During the summer 2013 trial, SCSJ represented several statewide nonpartisan groups, including the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, The North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, Democracy NC, and the NC NAACP, seeking to overturn racially-packed voting districts in North Carolina in the consolidated cases Dickson v. Rucho and NAACP v. NC. On July 8, 2013, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel in North Carolina state court unanimously rejected all challenges to the 2011 redistricting plans for Congress, State House and State Senate.

SCSJ has argued that redistricting maps were racial gerrymanders, unfairly dividing the state into “black districts” and “white districts,” in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution.  In doing so, the ability of minority voters to participate equally in the political process was intentionally limited.

SCSJ also argues that the plans violate the North Carolina constitution’s demand for geographically compact districts.  The enacted plans contain districts that are grossly non-compact and split far more precincts than prior or alternative plans.

Post-election analysis conducted by SCSJ and presented at trial showed that the 2011 redistricting plan placed one in four North Carolina voters into “split precincts,” leading to widespread confusion about who would be on the voter’s ballot on Election Day and resulting in the actual disenfranchisement of thousands of voters. These districts also placed a difficult burden on elections officials, who often struggled to assign voters living in split precincts to the correct districts. Across the state, thousands of voters assigned to the wrong district received the wrong ballot on Election Day. Those living in minority communities were disproportionately affected by this error. All of this evidence was presented to the State Supreme Court by SCSJ.

“Racial gerrymandering to create separate ‘white’ and ‘black’ districts is both wrong and unconstitutional. We need to get out of the mindset that black voters will only elect a black candidate and white voters will only elect a white candidate – this just isn’t true anymore. In the end, racially packed voting districts take away the ability of all racial groups to elect candidates of their choice,” said Melvin Montford, Executive Director of SCSJ client the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, Inc.

“More than 2,500 voters in just seven monitored counties lost their right to vote in 2012 because of the unprecedented way district lines zigzagged through precincts and neighborhoods in order to divide voters by race,” said Bob Hall, executive director of SCSJ client Democracy North Carolina. “That kind of disenfranchisement points to the serious problems with what amounts to computerized apartheid – and hopefully the court will say it must stop.”

Relevant court filings are available below:

Plaintiff-Appellants’ Reply Brief

Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

Amicus Brief 1

Amicus Brief 2:

Amicus Brief 3

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