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N.C. NAACP ramps up general election plans

As Senior Pastor Kenneth Cooper, right, of Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh and various NAACP and coalition members listen, the N.C. NAACP president, the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, extols those gathered last Saturday, Aug. 6, to work harder to maximize voter participation in November.

N.C. NAACP ramps up general election plans
August 11
06:15 2016

Photo by Cash Michaels 

BY CASH MICHAELS 

FOR THE CHRONICLE

It’s looking less and less like Gov. Pat McCrory’s attorneys will be able to cajole the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the recent U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling dismantling the state’s 2013 voter ID law, especially after the federal appeals court turned the Republican governor down last week.

That means the N.C. NAACP is “full speed ahead” with strategies to maximize voter registration, voter education and getting-out-the-vote in time for the November general elections.

On Saturday, Aug. 6, hundreds of activists from NAACP chapters and coalition groups across the state gathered at Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh not only to celebrate their recent federal court victory, and commemorate the 51st anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but also to plot the way for-ward now that 17-day early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct provisional balloting and pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-old prospective voters has been legally reinstated.

The N.C. NAACP and Democracy N.C., a non-partisan advocacy group, estimate that as a result of the federal appellate court ruling, at least 100,000 more North Carolinians will now be eligible to vote in November.

“It takes all of us to win these battles,” declared a jubilant, but cautious N.C. NAACP president, the Rev. Dr. William Barber II.

“We must be mindful that we must continue to mobilize … so we must activate mobilization plans to ensure that we continue to protect this franchise because this struggle is still real,” said Derick Smith, Political Action chair of the N.C. NAACP.

According to Barber, the N.C. NAACP is coordinating over 1,300 churches, synagogues, temples and mosques to be a part of the Sunday “Souls to the Polls” early voting effort. Thousands of volunteers across the state have been recruited for both voter registration and education of the issues,  and during the early voting period and on Nov. 8, there will be volunteers assigned to voter protection, making sure that the letter of the law is being carried out to ensure a fair election.

The first priority for NAACP and coalition members was to pressure their local county boards of election (BOE) across the state to institute new plans that expand early voting sites and accessibility starting Oct. 20. Barber vowed that the NAACP would “show up at every” local BOE meeting, “Because we will not have a ruling by the courts that calls what you have done ‘unconstitutional,’ and then allow you to play mischief with it and still suppress the right to vote.”

In Guilford County on Monday, over 300 activists heeded the call, storming the BOE meeting there, demanding that the board to do away with plans to drastically cut a dozen of 25 designated early voting sites, including at N.C. A&T University and UNC – Greensboro. Under pressure, the GOP-led board capitulated, allowing sites to stay at the two schools, and not cutting any other sites.

But for the first seven days, early voting will be only held at the Guilford County Board of Elections.

Later that evening in Wake County, the local BOE met by teleconference, thus disallowing any public input, deciding to also extend the initial seven days of the 17-day early voting period, starting Oct. 20, only at the downtown Raleigh BOE office. Prior to the decision, NAACP activists objected to that option, saying that in a county as large and populated as Wake, having only one early voting site for the first seven days was most inconvenient.

One Republican Wake BOE member, Edwin Woodhouse, cousin to Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the N.C. Republican Party, proposed eliminating Sunday “Souls to the Polls” voting that African-American churchgoers favor, and the voting site at N.C. State University. Both motions were rejected 2-1.

New Hanover County’s BOE will meet Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. to make its decision.

On Saturday, Barber told those gathered at the N.C. NAACP meeting that, “Now that we have won the case, we must use what we’ve won, and we must protect what we’ve won. We must have millions to march to the polls, and hundreds to march to these boards of elections.”

“Our excitement…,” Rev. Barber added, “…must now be turned into effort.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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