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Federal Voting Trial Begins In Winston-Salem

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

The federal trial challenging North Carolina's new voting regulations continues Tuesday morning in Winston-Salem.

Inside the courtroom yesterday were opening arguments and testimony from seven witnesses. An attorney for the plaintiffs, Penda Hare, called this case a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, one she says will have a lasting and decisive impact on African American and Latino voters for years to come.

Outside the courthouse was a massive Moral Monday protest and a march through downtown.

"If you were born... in America you should have the right to vote. You shouldn't have obstacles put in front of you. And that's what this is about: Removing those obstacles that are put in front of you," said James Webster, who was among the thousands calling for Voter equality.

A series of voting changes went into effect last year. 

The crux of the case hinges on whether reduced early voting days and the elimination of same day and teen registration discriminates against African American and Latino voters. The NAACP, League of Women's Voters and U.S. Department of Justice are among a series of plaintiffs challenging a law that reduces early voting days, eliminates same day voter registration and does away with a program to pre-register teens.

Defense attorneys assert this law doesn't discriminate and that the new provisions are supported by Congress and the Supreme Court. This bench trial is expected to last about a month.

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