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Unlock Our Vote Legal Update – January 25th

January 25, 2023

NC Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Civil Rights Groups’ Historic Lawsuit to Permanently Restore Voting Rights to Over 56,000 people and End Felony Disenfranchisement in North Carolina

RALEIGH, NC — On February 2nd, lawyers representing the Community Success Initiative, North Carolina NAACP, Justice Served NC, and Wash Away Unemployment will present their oral arguments at the North Carolina Supreme Court, as they seek to uphold a 2022 Superior Court victory that restored the voting rights of over 56,000 North Carolinians living in communities across the state.

Effective July 27, 2022 any NC citizen not currently incarcerated became eligible to register and vote in the state. Groups involved in the Unlock Our Vote Coalition including the NC Second Chance Alliance and the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, spent the summer registering hundreds of citizens with past convictions who celebrated casting their first ballots last fall.

Shakita Norman, a first-time voter re-enfranchised as a result of this lawsuit, and a plaintiff in the case says, “It felt so good to go in there and vote for the first time. I finally felt like my voice mattered, like someone had to listen to me and I could really make a change. After feeling overlooked and ignored by the system and society for so long, to finally have that right restored, especially being able to vote in front of my kids, I felt like it opened so many doors for me and the next generation.”

Advocates argue that this is precisely why the current ruling should stand. Daryl Atkinson, Co-director of Forward Justice, and lead attorney on the case, who will argue before the Supreme Court on February 2, 2023 says, “The November 2022 election marked the beginning of a more inclusive democracy in NC. To roll that progress back, and strip voting rights away from community members who are supposed to be equal citizens under the law, would be a huge blow to that expanded democracy. This is not a partisan issue, it’s a civil rights issue. The plaintiffs are not fighting for Democrats, Republicans or Independents, we’re fighting for the more inclusive democracy guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution.”

Dennis Gaddy, Executive Director of Community Success Initiative says, “Our democracy is strengthened when more of us are included and represented, and weakened when people are excluded and shut out. This case gives our state the chance to strengthen our democracy, represent the will of all citizens instead of a select few, and ensure that the right to vote is not dependent on how much money you have in your pockets; while righting a historic wrong and fully acknowledging the citizenship and humanity of justice involved people. It’s time to be on the right side of history and end an era of unconstitutional punishment for those who have already paid their debt to society by serving their time.”

What: Community Success Initiative v. Moore NC Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Who: Community Success Initiative, Justice Served NC, Wash Away Unemployment, and the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP, individual plaintiffs - represented by a collaborative legal team of Forward Justice, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, and Protect Democracy

When: Thursday, February 2, 2023 @ 9:30am EST

Where: NC Supreme Court - 2 E Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27601. You may also watch the livestream here

Additional information: Plaintiffs and attorneys will be available for questions following the Oral Argument. Learn more about the CSI v. Moore case and Unlock Our Vote NC Campaign here