Woman Faces Prison Because Of A Jim Crow Era Plan To Protect White Voters

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Woman standing on her porch

Lanisha Bratcher was finishing breakfast at home one morning at the end of July when there was a knock on her door. She had been discharged from the hospital the night before following a miscarriage that left her mourning the loss of her child.

Her partner opened the door – it was the police. They burst into their North Carolina home “like the Dukes of Hazzard”, Bratcher said. There was a warrant out for her arrest, they told her. Bratcher had no idea what for.

Her crime? Voting in the 2016 presidential election.

Bratcher faces up to 19 months in prison because she did not realize she had actually been stripped of the right to vote. Her lawyer says she’s being punished based on a Jim Crow-era law that was intended to disenfranchise African Americans.

Bratcher was on probation after being convicted of assault and North Carolina law mandates that people convicted of felonies can only vote once they complete their criminal sentences, including probation and parole, entirely. Bratcher grew up in Hoke county, where she readily acknowledges she had a rocky past, sometimes getting in trouble with law enforcement. In 2013, she and her sister got into a fight with some other people and Bratcher was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. She had since been working hard to turn a page – moving to Wake county with her husband and two daughters and trying to get a promotion at work.

During the March 2016 primary, Bratcher registered to vote, according to election records. She said that at that time, nobody had told her she couldn’t vote.  Later that year, her church had an event where they hosted a dinner and took people to the polls. So Bratcher went with her mother to vote during the early voting period before election day.

“I had no intention to trick anybody or be malicious or any kind of way,” she said. “If you expect us to know that we should know we should not do something, then we should not be on the list or even allowed to do it.”

Bratcher is among four people with felonies in her county – all of whom are black – who have been indicted for illegally voting in 2016.

Source: The Guardian

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