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Federal panel holds voting rights hearing in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal panel is holding hearings in North Carolina as its members examine how well the voting rights of minorities are being protected nationally.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights scheduled a public briefing Friday at a Raleigh hotel, with several panel discussions featuring experts across the political spectrum. Panelists include Vanita Gupta, who led the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in the Obama administration and is now the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Peyton McCrary, a long-serving historian in the Civil Rights Division of DOJ; and Hans von Spakovsky, who runs the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, among others. 

Former state NAACP president the Rev. William Barber, an election law expert at The Heritage Foundation and the civil rights division chief at the U.S. Justice Department during President Barack Obama's administration are scheduled to join in one discussion. Members of the public can address the bipartisan commission Friday evening.

The commission reports on national civil rights policy and how civil rights laws can be better enforced. The commission has monitored the state of voting rights and advocated for equal access for minorities to voting for over 60 years. Former state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson is the commission's vice chair.