The North Carolina NAACP on Friday announced that it will ask a federal judge to deny a conservative group’s request to delay the state elections board from certifying the results of the November election.
The NAACP chapter’s move comes in case filed by the conservative Civitas Center in November. Civitas asked the judge for a preliminary injunction stopping certification of the results until officials have completed a lengthy process to verify the registrations of voters who registered on the same day that they voted. The judge set a hearing for Dec. 8.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory currently trails his Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, by more than 10,000 votes. But McCrory has refused to concede in the race, using ballot complaints to allege widespread voter fraud. The state election board this week approved the recount of more than 90,000 early ballot votes in Durham County, but most other complaints have been effectively dismissed by the state board.
In its complaint, Civitas said that the election board in North Carolina is set to certify the results of the election before a laborious process to verify voters’ address by mail can be completed. Civitas argued that this “violates North Carolina law because ballots will be counted without the voter registrations having been verified.”
Martha Geer, a lawyer with the firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll representing the NAACP in this case, told reporters on a press call Friday that the Civitas lawsuit is baseless.
“They have provided no legal or factual basis to the court — none at all — justifying this injunction that they are seeking,” Geer said.
“They are not behaving as if they intend to sincerely litigate this case. It seems that they are basically using the lawsuit like a press release to attract media attention that then gives them an opportunity to broadcast their agenda,” she added.
Geer said it appears that the Civitas lawsuit is part of a broader strategy employed by conservatives to delay finalizing the results in the election.
Rev. William Barber (pictured above), president of the North Carolina NAACP, said that the Civitas lawsuit is “baseless” and “must be dismissed.”
“It is directed, once again, specifically at the rights of African Americans and people of color,” he told reporters on the press call. “All North Carolinians’ access to the ballot is at risk.”
Barber noted that a federal appeals court in July struck down a 2013 law eliminating same-day voter registration.
He said that Civitas’ effort targeting same-day registration after that court ruling “may amount to an abuse of the court system.”
“You cannot put a new label on old wine bottles and expect the courts to treat it as a new controversy. There is no new controversy here,” he said.
Correction The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Martha Geer is a lawyer for the NAACP. She is a lawyer for the firm the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. We regret the error.