Activists express concerns about voter suppression

From the North Carolina News Service:

Local elections take place in 200 towns and cities across North Carolina on Tuesday, and making sure every registered voter is able to cast their ballot is still a concern. Pasquotank County received national attention over an unsuccessful attempt to keep Elizabeth City State University student Montravias King from voting and running for city council.

Staff attorney Clare Barnett, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said she fears efforts to make it difficult for minorities and college students to vote could affect voter turnout across the state on Tuesday.

“If the pattern continues, students who are rightfully entitled to vote – and who are registered to vote – might be intimidated from voting because of the threat of having to come to a state board of election hearing or a local board of election hearing,” Barnett said.

King was ultimately elected to the Elizabeth City City Council. Statewide, Barnett said, there have been efforts to close polling places located on or near college campuses, and to modify district lines to favor Republican lawmakers. In this election, voters are not required to show a photo I.D. at the polls.

The new voter ID law – which is being challenged by the U.S. Justice Department and groups including the Southern Coalition for Social Justice – does not take effect until 2016, Barnett explained.

“The new voting law does not go into effect yet, so if you’re voting on Tuesday you do not have to show photo I.D. As long as you have registered to vote, you should be able to vote without a problem in your precinct,” she said.


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