FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 7, 2014
Bryan Perlmutter 704-770-6418
Volunteers Report Confusion Over Precinct Assignments and Uneven and Inadequate Voter Education at Polls
N.C. – On May 6 over 300 volunteers monitored precincts in 36 North Carolina counties, informing voters about the new voting laws, documenting incidents, and conducting an exit survey. This effort was organized by Ignite NC’s Vote Defender Project and Democracy NC in coordination with a professor at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.
The volunteer “Vote Defenders” helped hundreds of people vote, distributed thousands of pieces of voter education wallet cards, and collected nearly 3,000 surveys of recent voters.
In 2016 North Carolina voters will be required to show a government-issued photo ID (other than a student ID) to cast a ballot. In order to aid the over 300,000 registered North Carolina voters that the state identified as not having a government-issued ID, poll workers were instructed to tell voters that they needed an ID to vote starting in 2016 and to give them information about how to obtain a free ID.
Initial reports indicate:
- Inconsistent messages from a number of poll workers regarding Voter ID requirements,
- Many voters reported that their poll worker did NOT MENTION the Voter ID requirement going into effect in 2016, and
- Continued voting difficulties in Watauga County.
“With many of Boone’s precincts so close together and with all their recent precinct changes, including moving the precinct off App State’s campus, many voters were confused and found themselves going to the wrong polling sites. Since provisional ballots no longer count if you vote out of precinct, they had to make sure to be in the right place. Some folks had to walk multiple miles to ensure their vote counted. What should have been a simple trip turned into a major inconvenience. Inconsistent behavior and confusion by poll workers just made these issues worse,” said Bryan Perlmutter, Ignite NC Director who was in Boone on election day.
“If the Legislators in North Carolina are going to make such sweeping changes to our voting laws, they need to have an adequate voter education budget to ensure every eligible NC voter knows and understand the new laws and that every precinct worker and polling official gets the training and resources they need. Every NC citizen needs to have easy access to a free ID and the state must do what it takes to make sure no one is disenfranchised. This is particularly important for elderly voters, disabled voters, poor voters, and young people. Not to do what it takes, to under-fund voter education in the aftermath of a new voter ID law is willful negligence,” said Irving Allen, Fellowship Coordinator of Ignite NC and Director of GSO Voting Voices.
The NC Vote Defender Project and Democracy NC intend to scale this project up for the fall mid-term elections with a goal of putting 1,000 trained volunteers into the field.
A thorough report on the findings of the exit surveys will be ready later this summer.