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Voting boths await use at the Codington Elementary School polling station on May 6, 2008 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photo: Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images

A North Carolina state court panel ruled Monday to reinstate voting rights to people who are on parole, probation, or supervised release for a felony, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The ruling restores voting rights to more than 55,000 people who have left prison but are still being supervised — a group that is disproportionately Black.

  • The ruling is the largest expansion of voting rights in North Carolina since the 1960s, Daryl Atkinson, co-director of Durham civil rights group Forward Justice, said at a press conference Monday, per the News & Observer.

State of play: The law had previously required North Carolina felons to complete their probation or parole before being allowed to register to vote, whereas other states allow prisoners to regain the franchise as soon as they leave prison, according to the News & Observer.

  • Republican leaders who defended the law said Monday that they intend to appeal the ruling and ask for the ruling to be blocked until the appeal is complete.

The big picture: Monday's ruling “delivers on a promise of justice by the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P. a half century ago, that all people living in communities across the state deserve to have their voices heard in elections,” Stanton Jones, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, per the Times.

  • Black people comprise 21% of North Carolina voters but 42% of those on parole or probation affected by this law, notes the News & Observer.
  • If the ruling survives appeal, "North Carolina will be the only state in the South to automatically restore voting rights to people after they leave prison," according to the News & Observer.
  • “Today, we enlarged the ‘we’ in ‘We the people,'" Atkinson said.

Advocacy groups and the N.C. State Board of Elections are already working to accommodate the new ruling.

  • The State Board of Elections said in a statement Monday that it is moving as quickly as possible to update its forms and materials to reflect the new ruling.
  • "Starting tomorrow, we plan to start a voter registration drive across the state,” Dennis Gaddy, founder of the Community Success Initiative, a Raleigh group that helps former prison inmates rejoin society, told the News & Observer.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

In photos: Thousands descend on D.C. to march for voting rights

Demonstrators hold signs while walking during the March On for Washington and Voting Rights rally in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28. Photo: Pete Kiehart/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Thousands of people marched in cities across the United States on Saturday to urge the Senate to pass voting rights legislation and put pressure on state legislatures to expand voting access, NBC reports.

Driving the news: The March On for Voting Rights took place in D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Phoenix and other cities "to demand that elected officials protect democracy, denounce voter suppression and ensure fair, easy access to the vote for all through the passage of comprehensive federal legislation," per the group's website.

Judge asks DOJ to probe D.C. jail's treatment of Capitol riot detainee

D.C. Department of Corrections. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday held officials at the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections in contempt of court after ruling they violated the civil rights of a Jan. 6 detainee by impeding his access to medical care.

The big picture: The department has been the subject of heavy criticism from inmates, lawyers and judges over its living conditions, the Washington Post reports. During the pandemic, for around 400 days, officials imposed a 23-hour-a-day lockdown policy to enforce social distancing. The rule was eased this summer.

U.S. elected to rejoin UN Human Rights Council after exit under Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has been elected to rejoin on the UN Human Rights Council, the State Department announced Thursday, three years after former President Trump walked out on the panel citing bias against Israel.

Flashback: The Biden administration announced in February it planned to rejoin the council, acknowledging what it called an "unacceptable bias against Israel," but arguing that being a member would help the U.S. advance its own interests.