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Tomorrow we will present closing arguments in our three-week trial challenging North Carolina’s repressive voting laws. Over the past weeks, we heard about the hurdles that voters faced to cast their vote under the suppressive law North Carolina instituted almost two years ago. North Carolina did away with the week of early voting in which 900,000 voters voted last presidential election, eliminated the opportunity to register and vote on the same day, and prohibited the failsafe of out-of-precinct voting. All three provisions placed a heavier burden on African-American voters than white voters, because African-American voters disproportionately used the eliminated voting methods.

We heard from Michael Owens, who testified that he could not reach his assigned polling place on Election Day without a car, but was able to get to a polling place near work. Because North Carolina eliminated out-of-precinct voting, he was turned away at the polls without having the opportunity to cast his ballot. In a state where there are deep disparities by race in car ownership, a history of segregated neighborhoods, and inadequate public transportation, the fact that Owens is one of many Black voters who is affected by this change should come as no surprise.

We heard from Jessica Jackson, a long-time voter who tried to register at the DMV after moving across county lines, only to find out at the polls on Election Day that the DMV had failed to transmit her voter registration. In previous elections, she would have been able to easily correct the DMV’s error using same-day registration. Under the new repressive regime, her vote did not count. The state’s error disenfranchised her completely.

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A federal trial is scheduled to begin Monday, July 13, over North Carolina's restrictive voting law. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit the counting of out-of-precinct ballots. The case was brought on behalf of several clients, including the League of Women Voters of North Carolina.

The groups charge that enacting these provisions would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act.

State lawmakers last month passed a bill that softened the law's stringent voter ID provision, and Gov. Pat McCrory signed the measure into law. In light of these developments, proceedings related to voter ID have been deferred, and it will not be part of the federal trial.

Background: North Carolina passed a restrictive voting law in August 2013. Representing the League of Women Voters and other civic engagement groups and individuals, the ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit the counting of "out-of-precinct" ballots. Enacting these provisions would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act.

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RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina is applauding new guidelines issued by North Carolina officials that allow the same-sex spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child during the marriage to be listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. The ACLU worked with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in developing the new guidelines.

“These new guidelines are important because they reflect North Carolina’s recognition that lesbian spouses can both be legal parents to children born to the couple,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Being able to have birth certificates that accurately reflect a child’s family will have important practical and psychological benefits for families. Married lesbian couples who have children will no longer face the challenge of trying to register their kids for school or get them a Social Security card without a birth certificate naming both parents, and their children will not have the insecurity of seeing only one of their two parents on their birth certificate.”

North Carolina Vital Records, which is responsible for the issuance of birth certificates and is housed within DHHS, allows a non-biological father to be listed on the birth certificate of a child born to his wife through donor sperm. Before the new guidelines were issued, married lesbian couples who had children the same way were told that the non-biological parent could not be listed on their child’s birth certificate upon the birth of the child. The ACLU worked with DHHS on the policy change after being contacted by many affected couples in the wake of North Carolina’s recognition of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in October 2014.  

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Message of Hope

Posted on in Racial Justice

Last week, a noose was found hanging from a tree in front of the student union at Duke University. Campus officials and students have rallied to condemn the act, and a student has since admitted to hanging the noose, according to officials.

In the aftermath, ACLU-NC Executive Director Jennifer Rudinger, a Duke alumna, wrote the following letter to the editor to the Duke Chronicle:

"As a 1991 graduate of Duke University, I read with profound sadness the reports of recent racial tensions on campus that culminated with the discovery of a noose hanging in front of the Bryan Center in the wee hours of April 1. The fact that some students of color have expressed that they feel unwelcome and unsafe needs to be taken very seriously. As difficult and painful as it can be for the dominant culture to look critically at our own reflection in the mirror, recognition of the microaggressions, biases, denial and in some cases, overt hate that has been exposed here is something that needs to happen not only at Duke but throughout the nation.

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