Voting Rights Act

NC Senate Map

A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit State Court of Appeals has ruled that North Carolina's redistricting map for state house and senate members, redrawn in 2011 by the Republican-led General Assembly, is unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.

Finding Solutions For Mass Incarceration

Sep 29, 2015
Prison cells
sean hobson / Flickr Creative Commons

Although the United States makes up just five percent of the global population, America holds 25 percent of the world's prison population.

Five decades ago, lawmakers implemented policy changes that have led to mass incarceration today.

A picture of a voting sign.
Tom Arthur / Wikipedia

Volunteers hit the streets for National Voter Registration Day Tuesday, asking neighbors if their registration is current.

There are 6.3 million voters registered in North Carolina. Whether they are all registered in the counties they plan to vote in come Election Day is a different story.

Josh Lawson of the State Board of Elections says many voters have shown up at the polls in the past to find they weren't actually registered in the county they planned to vote in.

Ari Berman's book 'Give Us The Ballot' looks at voting in America since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The modern voting rights movement starts and ends with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The landmark piece of legislation was meant to give African-American voters open access to the polls.

Today, the law is still at the center of the debate about whether states can restrict that access.

Several states, including North Carolina, have passed new elections laws since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, leading to both federal and state court challenges.

An image of a person rallying outside a voting rights trial in Winston-Salem
Kimberly Pierce Cartwright / WNCU Public Radio 90.7 FM

The first week of a federal trial challenging North Carolina’s voting regulations is wrapping up in Winston-Salem. The plaintiffs - a group including the U.S. Department of Justice,  the NAACP, and League of Women Voters - aim to prove whether House Bill 589, enacted in 2013 by a Republican-led state legislature discriminated against minority voters.

Early Voting
Leoneda Inge

A  federal appeals Court in Charlotte heard arguments Thursday on whether or not changes to North Carolina's voting law can go into effect before the November election. The changes were passed by the Republican-led General Assembly last year. Critics argue the laws restrict access to voting, particularly among minority groups.

The North Carolina NAACP has argued the changes are a violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause, and of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Duke University Law School

This summer President Obama appointed former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  The Commission, an eight member panel, is charged with developing federal civil rights policy.  

Timmons-Goodson was the first African American female appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.  She spoke with  Phoebe Judge about the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and changes in North Carolina's voting rights laws, among other topics.

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

An expert witness returns to the stand this morning on day three of a federal hearing challenging the state's new voting law. MIT Professor Charles Stewart testified Tuesday that the state's new voting law disproportionately burdens and affects African Americans.

State House member Rick Glazier also testified. He called the measure "reminiscent of the Jim Crow Era" and gave a passionate description of how the bill was hastily moved through the General Assembly.

voting sign
Flickr creative commons


As the May primary draws near, issues over voter rights persist. The controversial voter law passed last year requires photo identification and reduces the number of days for early voting in the May 6th primaries. A lawsuit challenging the measure may soon force legislators to release their correspondence related to drafting the legislation. Meanwhile, the State Board of Elections released a report identifying hundreds of cases of possible voter fraud. 

Thousands marched to the North Carolina State Capitol building on Saturday.
James Willamor via Flickr

Organizers of Saturday’s moral march on Raleigh plan to use the event’s momentum to mobilize voters, they say. The event follows last year’s weekly Moral Monday rallies that criticized laws passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led government.  The new focus is on the fall elections.

Photo: Rev. William Barber of the N.C. NAACP called for pickets outside Rose and Maxwell stores, which are owned by the family of state Budget Director Art Pope.
Jorge Valencia

The Rev. William Barber, who led weekly protests this year against laws passed by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, gathered with a few of his supporters Monday outside the state budget office to criticize a man they say supports policies that hurt poor people.

NAACP William Barber
Leoneda Inge

The state NAACP has started airing radio ads across North Carolina to educate voters on the new law.  The radio ad features the booming voice of Reverend William Barber – state NAACP president.

“Election day is one time we are all equal, whether you are young or old, rich or poor.  When we vote we all have the same say, that is unless you live in North Carolina," said Barber in this ad.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

It seems like a long time ago, but it’s really been just seven months since newly-inaugurated Governor Pat McCrory sounded this hopeful tone:

“North Carolina’s greatest strength and asset remains its people,” he said during his inauguration speech.

“On those main streets across this state, it’s the people that count and that make a difference. People will come from different backgrounds but share a common set of principles. Self-starters and hard workers.”

Dave DeWitt

The House today is expected to take up a bill that makes major changes to how North Carolina will conduct elections. The Voter Verification Information Act includes shorter early voting periods and the elimination of same-day voter registration.

Other changes include no longer pre-registering young voters and increasing the maximum campaign donation per election. That’s in addition to the original purpose of the bill, to create a voter ID requirement.

The United States Supreme Court
Jeff Kubina

Two landmark decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court last week could have serious implications for North Carolina. Justices struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, leaving southern states free to pursue changes to election law without prior federal approval. The court also struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying that same-sex couples are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

The North Carolina Legislative Building
Dave Crosby / flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act affects a number of southern states, including North Carolina.

Previously, the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington had to approve or pre-clear state laws that affect voting, including redistricting. It also had to approve local and municipal decisions in 40 North Carolina counties with a history of voting discrimination.