RALEIGH—North Carolina lawmakers have filed a motion for the full N.C. Court of Appeal to review an April 26 ruling allowing tens of thousands of felons to vote in the November election.
Estimates of the number of felons the ruling would allow to vote in November have ranged from 54,000up to 56,000. The motion for an en banc hearing follows the N.C. Court of Appeals granting a request by lawmakers for a stay in the case.
An“en banc” hearing, which, if granted, means all 15 members of the appeals court would review the split-decision ruling issued by a three-judge panel in March.
On March 28, a 3-judge panel voted 2-1 to allow felons to vote, bypassing the state constitution which bars felons from voting “unless that person shall be first restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law.”Superior CourtJudges Lisa Bell and Keith Gregory, writing in the majority, implied the relevant law for restoration of voting rights passed in the 1970sby the then-Democratically controlled legislature was racist.
“The legislature cannot purge through the mere passage of time an impermissibly racially discriminatory intent,” Bell and Gregory wrote. “The legislature’s decision in the 1970s to preserve [the law’s] denial of the franchise to people living in the community was itself independently motivated by racism.”