Proskauer recently represented the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College in submitting an amicus brief before the Supreme Court of North Carolina in a major voting rights lawsuit. The case, Community Success Initiative v. Moore, involves a challenge to N.C. Gen. Stat. §13-1, a felony supervision law that denies the franchise to over 56,000 North Carolinians. Under §13-1, individuals who have been convicted of felonies cannot register to vote unless they have been “unconditionally discharged” from felony probation, parole, or post-release supervision.
The idea that individuals with a felony conviction should be barred from voting for at least some period of time is widely accepted across the United States. But when you consider that current laws arose out of explicit racial animus following the Civil War and the end of slavery; when you look at the disproportionate effect the practice has had on people of color; and when you weigh the arguments in favor of disenfranchising millions of Americans – it becomes apparent that states should revisit this issue as part of broader criminal justice reform efforts and broader calls to address systemic racism.
Currently, over five million Americans who otherwise qualify to vote cannot do so as the result of a felony conviction.
On June 1 and 2, more than 45 volunteers across Proskauer’s US offices assisted voters in exercising their right to vote through a virtual Election Protection call center in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Election Protection project strives to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the voting process, regardless of political affiliation.
While Proskauer has proudly hosted Election Protection call centers in its offices over the past decade, operating the call center for the state primary elections this year was uniquely challenging, and all-the-more important, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.