Breaking: North Carolina Court Restores Voting Rights for 56,000 people

History has been made in North Carolina. After a week-long trial, today a three-judge panel ruled that, starting immediately, any person on community supervision—including those on probation, parole, and post-release supervision—due to a state or federal felony conviction can register to vote. This victory comes fifty years after a group of Black legislators first sought to dismantle the state’s racist felony disenfranchisement law, which was originally enacted after the Civil War, and twenty-one months from the date that Forward Justice, Arnold & Porter, and Protect Democracy filed this lawsuit.

In September 2020, a three-judge panel granted partial judgment for Plaintiffs, immediately restoring voting rights for thousands of people on community supervision as a result of unpaid financial obligations ahead of the November 2020 elections. The court ruled that North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law violated two separate provisions of the state’s Constitution—the Equal Protection Clause and the Ban on Property Qualifications—by conditioning the right to vote on a person’s ability to pay fines, fees, and other debts associated with a previous felony conviction.

Today, the three-judge panel expanded the right to vote to the 56,000 North Carolinians who are on probation, parole, or post-release supervision.

The suit was first filed in November 2019 by Protect Democracy, Forward Justice, and Arnold & Porter on behalf of six individuals and several nonprofit organizations to restore voting rights for those with prior felony convictions. These organizations—Community Success Initiative, Justice Served NC, Inc., the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and Wash Away Unemployment—work to re-enfranchise citizens denied the right to vote under North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law.

For more information about this case please visit our lawsuit page for Community Success Initiative v. Moore.

To learn more about the history of North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law please visit Forward Justice’s interactive timeline.