On November 20, 2019, Protect Democracy, Forward Justice, and Arnold & Porter filed a lawsuit on behalf of several nonprofit organizations that serve those who have been involved in the criminal justice system, including the Community Success Initiative, Justice Served NC, Inc., and the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, to re-enfranchise citizens who are denied the right to vote under North Carolina’s felon disenfranchisement law.
The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, but for too long people with prior felony convictions have been denied that right. This lawsuit challenges a North Carolina law that prevents citizens from voting until their “unconditional discharge” from probation or parole—often years after their release from incarceration. Approximately 70,000 North Carolina citizens live and work in their communities, but are unable to vote because they were once convicted of a felony and are still on probation or parole, often because they are simply unable to pay fines or court fees. The law disproportionately harms Black people and other people of color. These are taxpayers without representation and citizens stripped of the right to shape the laws that regulate their daily lives. This lawsuit seeks to unlock the ballot for all North Carolinians.
“The disenfranchisement of citizens with prior felony convictions has long been a moral stain on our democracy,” said Farbod Faraji, Counsel at Protect Democracy. “It is long past time to put an end to this unjust practice, which has sought to mute the voices of tens of thousands of predominantly Black and Brown people who live right alongside us but have been relegated to second-class citizenship. This modern day version of Jim Crow must end today.”