NCNAACP CONCERNED ABOUT
STATE BOE MEETING TODAY
By Cash Michaels
With any relevant legal challenge now behind them thanks to the US Supreme Court upholding an appellate court’s recent smack down of North Carolina’s voter ID law, the NC NAACP remains concerned about how the Republican-led state Board of Elections [BOE] will resolve local BOE split decisions involving the number of sites and hours that will be allotted for the 17-day early voting period beginning Thursday, Oct. 20.
All one hundred local BOEs are comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat because, by law, the board majorities must reflect the party of the sitting governor. The state BOE currently has three Republican members and two Democrats.
The state BOE is scheduled to meet today, and civil rights advocates, like Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP and leader of the coalition that successfully fought in the courts to overturn the voter suppression law, are concerned that what the Republicans, and particularly Gov. Pat McCrory, couldn’t win in court, they will try to do through the state BOE by devising early voting plans that limit voting sites and hours.
An emailed memo to all local BOEs from NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, revealed in published reports weeks ago instructions to the local boards urging them, in light of the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling dismantling voter ID, to minimize sites and hours of operation.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Wake and Lenoir counties are just three counties where Republican-led local BOEs have done just that.
Rev. Barber says what many of the local boards did, and what the state Board is likely to do is “a travesty.”
“We are petitioning the state Board of Elections not to allow the system to be gamed and used in a way that is racist and unjust,” Rev. Barber told MSNBC Saturday. “This is a travesty for our governor, and our legislature and local boards of elections in the 21st century to continue to try this level of voter suppression.”
Rev. Barber added that what we’re seeing now from the local BOEs is not just about Gov. McCrory trying to win re-election, though he’s several points behind Democratic challenger Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper, but also a “desperate attempt [by Republicans] to hold onto power, “…and doing it in a way that undermines people’s right to vote.”
“It’s immoral, it’s unconstitutional, and we are fighting it with everything we can,” Rev. Barber said.
ABSENTEE BALLOTS URGED
SINCE STRAIGHT-TICKET BALLOTING NO MORE
By Cash Michaels
One of the major concerns about the 2013 voter suppression law was that the requirement for voters to brandish their government-issued photo identification would ultimately cause long lines at the polls during the early voting period and on Nov . 8th Election Day. So when the July 29th federal appellate decision doing away with voter ID was handed down, many cheered, until they realized there was still one key part of the voter suppression law still intact.
The part that did away with straight-ticket balloting.
In North Carolina, Michigan and other states without straight-ticket voting, Republicans say forcing voters to choose candidates race-by-race allows them to do their research on who has the best positions. But critics say given the partisan atmosphere, voters pretty much know what parties they support, so not being able to mark one party of candidates only creates longer lines and greater confusion.
According to the US Fourth Circuit ruling, one of the reasons why early voting was targeted by Republican lawmakers was because it was so popular with African-American voters. Thus, virtually all of the voter suppression requirements were applied accordingly.
But not so with mail-in absentee balloting, a voting feature dominated by Republicans who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to cast an in-person ballot on any of the early voting days or on Election Day.
Unlike in-person voting, absentee balloting has virtually few restrictions.
According to local Boards of Election, “Any registered North Carolina voter can request a mail-in absentee ballot. This type of absentee voting allows a voter or a near relative or legal guardian to request that an absentee ballot be sent to the voter by mail. The voter may vote the ballot and return it to the county board of elections by the ballot return deadline.”
Even though in-person early voting begins on Oct. 20th across the state, mail-in absentee-voting in North Carolina began this week.
No reason is needed for a North Carolina resident to request a mail-in absentee ballot from their local county BOE, or obtain it online from the state BOE at
https://www.ncsbe.gov/Portals/0/FilesP/AbsenteeBallotRequestForm.pdf. Just fill it out, use either your NC driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number for identification, and mail it back in to your local BOE by Tuesday, Nov. 1st, 2016.