October 9, 2014

Supreme Court blocks same-day
registration, out-of-precinct voting


The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday stopped a recent lower court ruling that would have allowed same-day voting in North Carolina and counting of votes miscast in the wrong precinct.

With the high court’s 5-2 decision, state residents have only two more days to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election.  The deadline is again Oct. 10 at 5 p.m.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that a district court must stay a provision in the state 2013 election law that no longer provided voters with the option to register and vote on the same day during the early voting period. The three-judge panel also ordered that the district court issue an injunction on a provision that barred out-of-precinct voters from having their vote counted.

In response, state leaders submitted an application to the Supreme Court to “stay the mandate” of the Court of Appeals, meaning that the preliminary injunction that prevented the two provisions from going into effect would lifted.

The high court gave no explanation for reversing the Appeals Court action. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in dissenting, based on concern about the 2013 law having a disproportionate impact on minority voters.

The Supreme Court's ruling ends the legal dispute over implementing the state's 2013 voting law in next month's general election -- before legal challenges to its constitutionality are settled.  However, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder has set a trial for July 2015 to hear arguments for and against constitutional questions raised by the new law.
Dare County elections director Melva Garrison said that the steps to address last week’s Appeals Court ruling had not yet been implemented, so there is no change on the local level.

Garrison said that as of Thursday morning, 27,999 people have registered to vote in Dare County.

“It’s growing,” she said of the electorate.

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