RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The four provisions in North Carolina’s 2013 elections overhaul law to be scrutinized during a federal trial starting Monday in Winston-Salem, with a sampling of the arguments contained in the attorneys’ pretrial briefs:
- Reduction of the number of early-voting days before each primary and general election from 17 days to 10.
Arguments from plaintiffs (U.S. Department of Justice, state NAACP, League of Women Voters of North Carolina and others): Seventy-one percent of black voters used early voting in the 2012 general election compared to 52 percent of white voters. Early voting days give low-income workers a better opportunity to overcome inflexible work schedules and transportation difficulties and vote.
Arguments from defendants (the state, State Board of Elections and Gov. Pat McCrory): More black voters participated during 10 days of early voting in 2014 midterm elections compared to 17 days of early voting in the 2010 midterm elections. Voters also still have other options to vote at other times beside Election Day, such as mail-in absentee ballots.
- Elimination of same-day registration during early voting.
Plaintiffs: African-Americans were more likely to use same-day registration than white voters when in place from 2007 to 2013. Black residents are more likely to have to re-register because “racial inequalities in socioeconomic status” lead them to move from county to county.
Defendants: Evidence shows African-American registration “suffered no impact” due to the end of same-day registration. Voters who had used same-day registration were more likely to fail a safeguard designed to affirm their identity through mailings, and the process was too long to prevent illegally cast ballots from being counted.
- Prohibition on counting ballots cast on Election Day by registered voters voting in the incorrect precinct.
Plaintiffs: Many voters don’t know what precinct they are assigned to and lack enough time or transportation to get the correct polling place. Low-income residents are most affected. Thousands of people who have cast out-of-precinct ballots in past election cycles get some of their choices to count.
Defendants: Over 99 percent of black and white votes cast an “effective” ballot despite the end of out-of-precinct voting. Requiring people to vote in their correct precinct means all of their choices will count and fewer people will be disenfranchised.
- Elimination of allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to “preregister” to vote so they would be automatically registered at 18.
Plaintiffs (U.S. Justice Department did not challenge preregistration): More than 150,000 teenagers preregistered to vote from 2010 to 2013, and evidence shows preregistration increases youth turnout. The repeal could mean up to 50,000 fewer young people voting in the 2016 presidential election.
Defendants: The repeal was a policy decision that doesn’t violate the 14th Amendment to the Constitution requiring equal protection under the law and the 26th Amendment setting the voting age at 18.
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