Close to 60 students at the historically black Elizabeth City State University were targeted by a county Republican Party chair who challenged their voter status for questionable reasons. Of the group, 56 students were dropped from voter rolls for no better reason than having a voter registration address that was different their parents’ home addresses. They used their college campus addresses instead.
Two students were kept on the rolls after they showed up at a hearing on April 19 with lawyers from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to defend their registration status. Some of the notices for that hearing that went out to the rest of the students came back as undeliverable, while others failed to show for unknown reasons. The board decided that the students’ absence was evidence that they should be dropped.
Southern Coalition executive director Anita Earls told Colorlines that dropping people from voter rolls due to undeliverable mail may be a violation of the National Voter Registration Act. They plan to sue the county and today sent a letter to the elections board indicating their intent to do so. The two students who they saved from being dropped are resident advisors who live on campus. It’s not known how many of the other 56 who were purged were also university employees.
Earls also tells us that the Republican Party county leader who made the challenges, Richard Gilbert, only targeted the black college students, that he filed no other challenges at any other universities. Pasquotank County, where the challenges occurred, is also a Section 5-protected jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act.