In 2013, Pat McCrory passed H.B. 589, putting into effect one of the worst voter suppression laws in the country. Measures such as the photo ID requirement at the polls, the elimination of pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and shortening the early voting period by a week aim to disenfranchise people of color, working people, immigrants, and students. By suppressing these voices, those behind this law aim for a future without regard for education, healthcare, and other public services.
These efforts have caused a litany of problems related to voting across North Carolina since it has passed, including out-of-state students turned away for improper ID without being offered provisional ballots or impediment forms, lines of 3+ hours because of narrowed early voting hours and mass voter confusion.
In particular, students at North Carolina State University did not have access to any early voting sites within walking distance to their campus, because the Wake County Board of Elections failed to provide such a site. Ignite NC’s Vote Defender Project has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to protect the right to vote, and we must continue the effort to increase access to the polls. This summer, the Board of Elections will make decisions about the placement of early voting sites.
2016 has been a tumultuous year for voting rights. We must stand up to the BOE at their meetings in order to win accessible early voting sites for students in North Carolina. We must also continue to advocate for students, people of color, immigrants, older people, and working people.