North Carolina’s process for challenging voter registrations seems to be outdated and “insane,” said U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs on Wednesday.
Biggs made the comment during an emergency hearing scheduled after the North Carolina NAACP filed a lawsuit demanding county election boards stop cancelling voter registrations.
“This sounds like something that was put together in 1901,” she said of the challenge process.
Officials have removed thousands of registrations in Beaufort, Moore and Cumberland counties because campaign mailings to the voters’ addresses were returned as undeliverable.
Since 2014, at least 5,600 registrations have been removed in Cumberland County for varying reasons, while 790 and 63 were removed in Moore and Beaufort counties, respectively.
Biggs added that she was “horrified” by the large number of people removed from the rolls in Cumberland County.
“It almost looks like a cattle call, the way people are being purged,” she said.
North Carolina law maintains that any voter within a county can challenge the eligibility of another voter in that county up to 25 days before the election.
But the North Carolina NAACP argues that the cancellations unfairly target black voters and are an attempt by the Republican Party to suppress the black vote.
Black voter turnout so far this year is much lower than it was in 2012, which could possibly hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s chances of snagging a win in the Tar Heel state.
The Justice Department filed a statement of interest in the lawsuit on Monday, saying that removing voters from the rolls en masse is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act.
Biggs did not rule on the matter on Wednesday and did not say when she would make a decision.
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