Sunday, January 07, 2024

The Ball Bounces Back to Judge Schroeder's Court



AppState Student Union during Early Voting

On December 28, Federal Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of the Middle District of North Carolina heard arguments for and against an injunction to enjoin part of S 747, "Elections Law Changes," the sweeping bill fiddling with ballot access that was ultimately passed by veto override in the General Assembly on October 10th.

Watauga Co Voting Rights Task Force (WCVRT) et al. v State Bd of Elections and Philip E. Berger et al. targets one particular section of S 747, "same-day" voter registration, specifically the "undeliverable mail provision" which can disenfranchise same-day registrants because of stupid postal or clerical errors.

Following the General Election of 2022, the WCVRT tracked same-day registrants whose votes were challenged because a card-mailing to their addresses of record was returned as undeliverable, almost always because of computer or clerical error. The same-day registrants were qualified voters but were in jeopardy because of dumb mistakes. For example, mail was returned that had been directed to Ms. Xxxxx Xxxxx, address "SAME." "Same"? Because there are two lines for addresses on VR forms -- the 1st one for a physical residential address and the second for a mailing address if different from the physical address. When Ms. Xxxxx appeared at her polling location during early voting to update her address and cast a ballot, the poll worker wrote her residential address on the 1st line and wrote "Same" on the second. No post office on earth is going to delliver a piece of mail addressed "Same."

After hearing arguments, which most observers thought tilted favorably to the plaintiffs, Judge Schroeder punted, asked the two sides to work out a compromise that would lift the burden off him of ruling the law unconstitutional because it denied voters due process. Schroeder gave the two sides seven days to work something out.

WRAL reported on Friday that the two sides have failed to reach a compromise (huge surprise, right?). "The matter now lies in Schroeder's hands."

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has overruled Schroeder before on a fair elections case. Don't you think that must be on his mind right now?

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