RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – There could be thousands of new North Carolina voters in the upcoming elections.
The Wake County Superior Court ruled Monday morning to allow felons who are still on probation or parole the ability to vote.
If the ruling holds, more than 55,000 people who are estimated to have not been previously eligible to vote could register.
As much as some people are hoping this is a start of a new future – it is not a done deal yet.
“We no longer are muted, and that, as a cultural people, as formerly incarcerated, over 56,000 people they mentioned, they can use their voice,” said Corey Purdie.
Purdie only voted five years after he was released from jail.
He said he felt “muted” by North Carolina voting laws, even after he finished serving his sentence.
“For so many years, I was told I couldn’t speak. I didn’t think my vote mattered,” explained Purdie.
Until Monday morning, felons were not allowed to vote if they were still serving their criminal sentence outside of a facility.
That means anyone on parole, probation, or post-release supervision, could not register to vote for an election.
Advocacy groups and representatives from the NAACP said they hope this means the end of a law, that they say, overwhelmingly impacts people of color.
“Although African Americans constitute 21.51 percent of North Carolina’s voting age population, they represent 42.32 percent of the people disenfranchised while on probation, parole, and post-release supervision,” said Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NAACP of North Carolina.
“What the court did today was the largest expansion of voting rights in this state since the 1965 Voting Rights Act,” added Daryl Atkinson, one of the attorneys for the case.
For that to happen, everyone needs to get on board with the court’s decision.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore’s General Counsel, Sam Hayes, said: “This is an absurd ruling that flies in the face of our Constitution and further casts doubt on election integrity in North Carolina. We will seek an immediate stay of this ruling pending approval.”
An appeal needs to be filed within 30 days.
If the courts grant that appeal, there could be a brand-new trial.
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