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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 08, 2016

 

Pushing back the crazy in North Carolina

by Tom Sullivan

There is enough crazy (and crazies) in NC to fill several wildlife refuges. Still, Gov. Pat McCrory is rated one of the most vulnerable Republican governors seeking reelection this fall. With state agencies allegedly dragging their feet over complying with federal voter registration laws, activists are not sitting around waiting for Bernie or Hillary to swoop in and save the day. The North Carolina NAACP and Democracy North Carolina are mounting a multi-pronged get-out-the-vote effort across the state. Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the state NAACP and leader of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement came to Asheville, North Carolina this week to promote the “It’s Our Time — It’s Our Vote” campaign. The coalition announced the campaign on December 1, the 60th anniversary of Rosa Parks' protest on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Mountain Xpress reports:

“Others have had their time over past few years to vote on regressive policies. It’s our time now,” Barber commented. “In North Carolina, we have been fighting the worst voter suppression law in the country.” In partnership with other organizations, the NAACP has challenged new voting laws passed in 2013, including voter identification requirements, the elimination of same-day voter registration and the elimination of out-of-precinct voting. Barber asked attendees to spread the word about a July 2015 change in the North Carolina General Assembly statute which allows voting without ID in the case of a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining identification.

“Go and vote,” urged Barber. “The law has not been fully adjudicated. They had to water it down because they knew what they had passed was totally unconstitutional. That came from our efforts and those of our partners.”

Indeed, with what has been passed, rolled back (in advance of a federal lawsuit), or held up in the courts it is confusing enough even to North Carolina activists to know what rules will be in force during the March primary or in November:

"We must educate voters with a message," said Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, "that regardless of all the confusion and all the complexity, you can vote. In fact, you must vote."

Barber elaborated this week:

Initiatives planned for the campaign include a voter registration campaign from Dec. 1 to Feb. 19, a Mountain Moral Monday event in Asheville on Jan. 25, a statewide rally in Raleigh on Feb. 13, a voter guide detailing statewide candidates’ stands on issues of concern to NAACP and its partners and a Freedom Summer II statewide youth initiative. Barber said the coalition will be conducting get-out-the-vote efforts in 90 North Carolina counties, with intensive efforts planned for 55 counties. The campaign will organize moral marches to the polls during early voting and on election day. “We intend to have a thorough, organized effort throughout the state,” explained Barber.

The February 2014 Moral March on Raleigh drew an estimated 80,000 people. Few in the media took notice. Maybe this time.

“Health care is on the ballot. Public education is on the ballot. Living wages are on the ballot. Black Lives Matter is on the ballot. If you care about that issue, remember that sheriffs, judges and district attorneys are elected. Chiefs of police are appointed by elected officials. You can’t even sit on a jury unless you are registered to vote,” Barber said. Oh, and minor little health women's health and privacy issues are on the ballot.

The North Carolina Democratic Party is not idle. It is providing trainings around the state for county organizers. One way people waste their votes in presidential years is by showing up to vote for president and then neglecting down-ballot races. One way Democrats in our county won 36 of 36 races in 2008 is by fielding an army of poll greeters. So it's great to have Barber emphasizing down-ballot races. It's not only the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court at issue this fall.