Voting rights advocates were dealt several huge victories on Friday when courts rejected blatant attempts at suppressing mostly people of color from being able to cast ballots on Election Day. The rulings mean that thousands of people who had previously been deemed ineligible voters will now be able to register and go to the polls on Tuesday.
In one key ruling on an obvious case of gerrymandering — or redrawing municipal boundaries along racial and political lines in order to impact elections — the North Carolina General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division decided in an injunction that “four districts in the North Carolina House of Representatives (Districts 36, 37, 40 and 41) violate the prohibition in the North Carolina Constitution on mid-decade redistricting,” the NAACP wrote in a press release.
The NAACP has launched a number of similar lawsuits across the country trying to prevent voter suppression from taking place.
“This is an important victory for the NAACP as we fight to ensure that communities of color have a full opportunity to elect representatives who will protect their interests in state legislatures across the country” Bradford M. Berry, NAACP General Counsel, said.
The NAACP also teamed up with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to win an injunction against voting technology that prevented 53,000 mostly African-American residents from registering to vote in Georgia. The ruling against the software, called Exact Match, “will directly affect about 3,100 applications,” the NAACP said.
Also in Georgia, where Stacey Abrams was vying to become the nation’s first Black woman governor, a judge granted an injunction that could allow about 3,000 people previously denied voter registration over citizenship questions the ability to vote. The case was centered on new U.S. citizens.
The case was a direct referendum on Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who, in a clear conflict of interest, was overseeing the election while he’s waging his own political campaign for governor against Abrams.
That ruling followed one on Tuesday rejecting Kemp’s instructions to all local election officials to deny absentee ballots over signatures.
Of course, there were still voter suppression efforts hard at play, even as the two rulings were handed down Friday. From the president’s new racist ad to voter intimidation tactics to the more than 50,000 people still fighting to register to vote in Georgia, there was still much work to be done for voting rights advocates. Friday’s rulings were a brief respite from that harsh reality.
“From the time of Reconstruction and beforehand, opponents of a true democracy have attempted to silence and suppress Black political power, and each time we’ve stood strong and fought back – today is one of those times,” NAACP North Carolina State President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman said in a statement. “We are committed to this fight of making democracy real for all of us and stand ready to do battle against those who seek to shrink this ideal.”