Court Ruling Could Allow Formerly Incarcerated Individuals to Vote in NC

By: Alyssa Wilson

A preliminary ruling from a panel in North Carolina could allow nearly 56,000 formerly incarcerated individuals to register to vote.  

According to CNN, this comes after a lawsuit by civil rights groups and formerly incarcerated individuals challenged a state law that prevents them from voting until they have completed their sentence, probation and parole.  

RELATED: Formerly Incarcerated Still Face Recidivism Obstacles, Particularly Black Men 

Superior Court Judge Lisa Bell said two judges on a three-judge panel would issue a preliminary injunction that bars the state from denying voter registration from North Carolina residents convicted of felonies who were on probation, parole or supervision post-release, according to voting rights groups.  

RELATED: Cuomo Signs Law Restoring Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated People In NY 

The ruling applies to people convicted in both federal and state courts. While the ruling only exists verbally and has not been written formally, an appeal is still possible. State Senator Warren Daniel of North Carolina did not think highly of the idea. “If a judge prefers a different path of regaining those rights, then he or she should run for the General Assembly and propose that path,” he said. “These judges may think they’re doing the right thing by rewriting laws as they see fit [without bothering to even explain their ruling], but each one of these power grabs chips away at the notion that the people, through their legislature, make laws.”  

RELATED: Georgetown Offering Degree Program to Individuals Incarcerated in Maryland 

Each state has different laws about the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Twenty states automatically restore voting rights once a person is released from prison, and two other states never take the right away from people, CNN reported. 

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here. 

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