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NC Supreme Court Confirms That Certain Voters on Felony-Based Community Supervision Must Be Allowed to Vote

The court orders that until appeal is complete, the previous 2020 legal standard will apply for felony-based disenfranchisement.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Yesterday, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied without prejudice a request from plaintiffs in CSI v. Moore to reinstate voting rights to all people serving felony-based community supervision in North Carolina after a panel of the Court of Appeals temporarily stayed that victory pending appeal. The request was filed on behalf of people who have been disenfranchised from the democratic process due to previous convictions who are fighting to unlock the vote to more than 56,000 voters in North Carolina, after an historic win at the trial court level on August 23rd.

This decision comes weeks after a three-judge panel issued a preliminary injunction expanding voting rights for these individuals, most of whom are Black. The North Carolina Court of Appeals later granted a temporary stay of that order requested by the Legislative Defendant’s, which the Supreme Court partially affirmed today. In a victory for the plaintiffs, the ruling stated that all people on felony supervision who legally registered to vote from August 23rd to September 3rd, the 10-day period that the trial court’s expanded preliminary injunction was in effect, are legal voters.

The case was filed by Community Success Initiative, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, Justice Served NC, and Wash Away Unemployment as well as individual plaintiffs on behalf of those who have been disenfranchised from the democratic process. The groups emphasized that, although this is a disappointing ruling, it is only temporary and they are committed to restoring voting rights to all North Carolinians. Indeed, the legal team, including co-counsel from Forward Justice, Arnold & Porter and Protect Democracy, filed post-trial briefs with the trial court on Friday, as the three-judge court prepares to issue its final permanent ruling in the case on the full trial record.

The plaintiff organizations issued the below statement following the Supreme Court Order:

“Although the Supreme Court’s decision to not grant our request to fully reinstate the total rights restoration injunction was disappointing, we are pleased that all people with felony convictions

on community supervision who registered to vote from August 23 to September 3 must be considered eligible voters and will be able to vote legally— and we encourage them to exercise their voice in the upcoming elections. We are now a step closer to our goal, and even in the face of this temporary delay of full justice, we are celebrating. We remain committed to the vision of an equal democracy, untainted by laws illegally designed to disenfranchise Black people in this state. We are keenly aware of the battles that have come before us, and the hurdles overcome by those who have fought to expand who will be included in the ‘We’ of ‘We the People.’ What we are seeking is not a matter of victory on the left or right, but a moral and constitutional challenge that must be faced: the future of our democracy depends on all voices being accounted for and included.”

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About the N.C. NAACP

North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP (“North Carolina NAACP”) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization composed of over 100 branches throughout the state of North Carolina. The fundamental mission of the North Carolina NAACP is the advancement and improvement of the political, civil, educational, social, and economic status of minority groups; the elimination of racial prejudice; the publicizing of adverse effects of racial discrimination; and the initiation of lawful action to secure the elimination of racial bias. www.naacpnc.org

About Forward Justice

Forward Justice is a nonpartisan law, policy and strategy center dedicated to advancing racial, social, and economic justice in the U.S. South. Our work catalyzes success for social movements and expands opportunities for people affected by injustice. www.ForwardJustice.org

About Protect Democracy

Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit with an urgent mission: to prevent our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government. www.protectdemocracy.org