We have joined forces with Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan organization that shares our dedication to protecting our democracy and making sure everyone has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.
New Voting Law
The North Carolina General Assembly passed the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) and Governor McCrory signed it into law on August 12th, 2013. The law is a sweeping set of changes to the state's election laws.
Already, young people are no longer allowed to preregister to vote when they get their drivers' licenses at 16 or 17 for when they turn 18 and annual registration drives in high schools around the state have been eliminated. In addition, the limited public financing of some elections has been eliminated.
Beginning in 2014, some of the changes include:
- early voting is shortened from 17 days to 10 days;
- same-day registration is no longer available (registration ends 25 days prior to an election);
- more partisan poll observers and more people can challenge a voter's right to vote;
- no out-of-precinct voting on election day (if you vote in the wrong precinct, it won't be counted);
- the procedure for absentee ballots has changed; and
- straight party voting is eliminated.
And, in 2016, all voters must have an approved form of photo identification. The rules are complicated but, generally, one needs one of the following forms of identification:
- unexpired NC driver's license;
- NC non-driver identification;
- military or veterans ID;
- unexpired US passport;
- an unexpired tribal ID signed by an elected tribal official from a federally or NC recognized tribe; or
- unexpired out-of-state license but only for 90 days after the person registers in NC.
There are several court cases addressing various aspects of the law that have been filed. In federal court:
- In League of Women Voters v. North Carolina (13-CV-660) , the plaintiffs challenge the reduction in early voting days, the elimination of same-day registration and the requirement that voters cast their ballots in their precinct rather than accepting provisional ballots as discriminatory and in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
- In addition, in NAACP v. McCrory (13-CV-658), the plaintiffs also challenge the voter photo identification requirements and allege that the change in the number of poll monitors and voter challenge procedures “increases the likelihood of voter harassment....”
- In United States v. North Carolina (13-CV-861) (which has a lot of interesting statistics), the Department of Justice also challenges the photo ID requirement and the early voting, same-day registration and provisional ballot sections.
And, in North Carolina court:
- In Currie v. North Carolina (13-CV-1419), the plaintiffs—which include the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute—challenge the requirement that voters have photo identification as a violation of the North Carolina constitution as interpreted in previous NC Supreme Court rulings.
As these cases make their way through the courts, we may or may not see changes to the law.
NC Voter Project
The new law claims to address the problem of voting integrity and voter fraud even though there is no evidence of voter fraud. Instead, the law acts to disenfranchise:
- students who can't use a student ID and who have, in the past, taken advantage of preregistration and who disproportionately use same-day registration;
- elderly and disabled voters who disproportionately do not have driver's licenses and have a more difficult time getting to a DMV office;
- African-American voters who disproportionately use early voting (particularly after church on Sundays) and who are more likely to vote with a provisional ballot in a different precinct than their own; and
- women who often change their names when married or divorced and their voter registration may not match their identification.
As part of Democracy NC's Operation Jumpstart, the goal is to register as many people as possible in the first 100 days of 2014, until the first day of the primary election in May. Volunteers like you from around the state will begin to canvass, by telephone and door-to-door, to register voters and to help voters understand how the changes in the law affect them, to make sure they know the proper place to vote, and, in preparation for the 2016 election, to determine whether a voter has the proper voter ID and, for those who need one, to help them to arrange to get the proper identification.
The project plan is to help:
- churches, civic and fraternal groups to organize their members to canvass their own communities;
- interested individuals to partner with others in their area to canvass their own neighborhoods; and
- recruit others to do the same.