While we are disappointed in that decision, we are pleased that all people on felony probation, parole or post release supervision who registered to vote from August 23 to September 3 must be considered eligible voters and will be able to vote legally.
Overview of the campaign and case
The Unlock Our Vote campaign centers on ensuring that thousands of people in our state directly impacted by the criminal legal system have a civic voice and are able to participate in our democracy. Our democracy cannot be truly representative of the will of the people with so many of our community members disenfranchised and unable to participate in the democratic process. Forward Justice launched the Unlock Our Vote campaign in an effort to expand the “We” in “We the people” and make our democracy more inclusive and representative.
In November 2019, Forward Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of four organizational plaintiffs and six individual plaintiffs in Wake County Superior Court, seeking to reinstate voting rights for over 55,000 North Carolinians previously convicted of felonies who live in our communities but had not been restored the right to vote due to an unconstitutional felony disenfranchisement law.
- In September 2020, a three-judge panel issued a preliminary injunction ruling that an inability to pay court fines and fees should not impact a person’s right to register and vote. Thousands of people on community supervision whose probation or parole had been extended due to inability to pay court fines and fees were able to register to vote.
- During the trial that began August 16th, 2021, our Co-Director Daryl Atkinson argued that the existing law is racially discriminatory in its intent and has a disparate impact on Black people, excluding them from full participation in our democracy.
- On August 23rd, 2021, a three-judge panel modified the existing preliminary injunction in the case, allowing all North Carolinians on probation, parole, or post-release supervision for felony convictions to immediately begin to register to vote and vote in North Carolina elections.
- On September 3rd, 2021, a panel of the NC Court of Appeals issued an order halting the CSI v. Moore amended Preliminary Injunction. The entire superior court panel unanimously denied an earlier request for a stay from the Legislative Defendants; but the Court of Appeals order blocks more than 56,000 people in North Carolina, disproportionately African American, from accessing their fundamental right to vote – on the eve of municipal elections.
- On September 10, 2021, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied our request to fully reinstate the voting rights restoration injunction won on August 23rd. While we are disappointed in that decision, we are pleased that all people on felony probation, parole or post release supervision who registered to vote from August 23rd to September 3rd must be considered eligible voters and will be able to vote legally.
What are the next steps, what should we do now?
Effective September 3rd, 2021, supporters who are conducting voter registration outreach in the community should continue registering all voters who were eligible in 2020 and pause on registering voters who were newly enfranchised under the Court’s order, until there is further direction from the Court and the SBOE.
Register to Vote!
You may register to vote online through the NCDMV, by mail, by dropping your form off at your county board of elections office, or in-person during early voting. The resources below will help ensure you have everything you need to exercise your vote. The regular deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before an election.
October 2021 Municipal Elections
- One Stop Early Voting | Sept. 16 – Oct. 2, 2021
- Absentee Ballot Request Deadline | Sept. 28, 2021
- Election Day | Oct. 5, 2021
November 2021 Municipal Elections
- One Stop Early Voting | Oct. 14 – 30, 2021
- Absentee Ballot Request Deadline |Oct. 26, 2021
- Election Day | Nov. 2, 2021
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES:
- September 10th, 2021—Deadline to register to vote in municipal elections happening on October 5th, 2021
- October 8th, 2021—Deadline to register to vote in municipal elections happening on November 2nd, 2021