Early Voting Monitors Find Pat McCrory’s Monster Voter Suppression Law Impedes Young Voters. Youth Mobilize to Protect NC Voting Integrity.
In August 2013, Pat McCroy signed HB589 into law, a set of new rules referred to pro-democracy advocates as North Carolina’s Monster Voting law. On the day Gov McCrory signed the bill he stated, “…the law will ensure integrity at the North Carolina ballot box and provide greater equality in access to voting.”
While the Constitutionality of the laws remains quagmired in litigation, most aspects of the law will be implemented during this March election cycle, including:
- A reduction in the time period for Early Voting,
- An end to out-of-precinct voting,
- The expansion of the ability of a voter to challenge another voter at the polls,
- An end to the broadly popular pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds,
- Requiring a state issued Voter ID, but excluding the use of university IDs.
In response Ignite NC’s Vote Defender Project, launched in August 2013, has trained and deployed non-partisan election protection volunteers across the state during the March early voting period. These “Vote Defenders” will provide voters with information about the new laws, document
any incidents, and conduct an academic exit survey in partnership with a political science professor at UNC-Charlotte. On Election Day, Ignite NC will join with pro-democracy partners in deploying more than 1000 volunteers monitors across 45 counties.
“We have already been hearing troubling reports from our monitors, such as overly-long lines, not enough early voting hours, inadequate equipment at early voting sites, and students being turned away for inadequate ID” said Holden Cession, an organizer with the election protection effort. “If Pat McCroy and the state of North Carolina want to be true to their word and protect the integrity of the election, they must take immediate action and stop defending the monster voter suppression law in the courts, and follow the lead of other states like Oregon to pass laws such as automatic voter registration.”
A few days into the early voting process has revealed that the state is unable to adequately administer the new changes: We have seen:
- In Boone, NC, students waiting over two hours to try to squeeze into the Early Voting window which has no weekend or evening hours. In addition, high profile political operatives being unlawfully stationed inside polling locations.
- In Chapel Hill, students have been turned away for improper ID and not offered a Provisional ballot or ID impediment forms
- North Carolina State University students experiencing transportation barriers as Wake County failed to provide a single Early Voting site on or within walking distance of campus.
“These long lines are a symptom of the new voting law,” said Rachel Clay, the Western Election Protection field organizer with Ignite NC who witnessed Boone’s voting lines. “Watauga County cut every single evening and weekend Early Voting hour. We warned them that this would be the result. With decisions made to cut early voting, insufficiently staffing precincts, and requiring everyone to show ID, it is not surprising the lines piled up. While I am thrilled with the amount of students showing up to vote, I call on the state to do more.”
“During a highly contested presidential primary, and with several key local races on the March 15 ballot, we are right to question the impact of this new law and the intentions of Pat McCroy, who signed it,” said Irving Allen an organizer with Ignite NC. “It’s not a coincidence that we are seeing problems at precincts with high concentrations of young people and people of color.”
In the past three years, North Carolina’s General Assembly has amassed a well-documented history of suppressing dissent. In 2013 we saw the state illegally arrest and ban hundreds of people during the Moral Monday movement. Last month, four youth were arrested at a last-minute meeting of the UNC Board of Governors, for addressing a public body that has no process for public input.
Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Dan Forest announced the introduction of an Orwellian “Campus Free Expression Act” that would actually serve to put punitive limits on freedom of expression by students and faculty who dare to speak out against the austerity agenda of the current BOG and their hand-picked champion, the highly controversial appointee, Margaret Spellings.
Democracy requires that every person impacted by the laws and policies of the state have a voice in choosing their representatives. This law moves us in the opposite direction.
The NC Vote Defender Project encourages every eligible voter to cast a ballot on March 15 or during Early Voting.
Any voter who has questions about the new law, or trouble casting their ballot should call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-888-OUR VOTE, where legal experts will help them vote, provide non-partisan information, and document any instances of wrongdoing by the state.