Groups protest efforts to curtail early voting

Posted March 29, 2013

— Using Easter imagery, various voting rights groups railed Friday against proposals to cut back early voting and eliminate same-day registration in North Carolina.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, and Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, filed bills this week that would reduce the early voting period from two weeks to one and eliminate same-day voter registration. Starnes' proposal also would outlaw early voting on Sunday and straight-ticket voting.

"The legislature is trying to crucify voting rights in this state," said Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president.

While millions of people are focused on love and charity during Holy Week, Barber said, Republican lawmakers are trying to divide people and act as tyrants.

"We know that if you push truth down, it gets up and resurrects itself. If you push justice down, it gets up and resurrects itself," he said.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said early voting isn't a partisan tool, noting that both Republicans and Democrats like the flexibility it offers. More than 2 million voters, or about 57 percent of those who voted statewide, used one-stop sites in the 2012 general election.

But young and black voters are more likely to be affected by the loss of same-day registration, Hall said, which would disproportionately hit Democrats.

Tillman said the rules are the same for everyone, so reducing early voting provides no advantage or disadvantage to anyone.

"Democrats can go vote early. Republicans can go vote early. How does it make sense to say it harms somebody? It does not," he said.

Hall noted that the two bills also make it easier for mail-in absentee voting, which traditionally favors Republicans.

"Basically, what's going on here is a form of voter fraud," he said. "(Lawmakers are) systematically trying to cheat people who have been able to use the tools of democracy."

Early voting sticker Plans to limit early voting in NC decried

NC NAACP opposes restrictions on early voting Groups oppose restrictions on early voting

Irving Joyner, a law professor at North Carolina Central University who heads the NAACP's Legal Redress Committee, said the GOP-controlled legislature is trying to undermine the constitution for its own benefit.

"What we have is a legislature that's bent on taking away a fundamental component of democracy of their state," Joyner said. "They take the position) 'We want to have only certain people able to vote, and those certain people are us. The rest of the people be damned.'"

Starnes denied that his plan to eliminate Sunday voting is aimed at black churches, which often hold "souls to the polls" events.

"It's not targeting anybody. I think it's just honoring the Sabbath," he said.

Allison Riggs, a voting rights attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, called the proposals "unjustified, illegal and unconstitutional barriers to voting." She predicted the public would respond unfavorably to such overreaching legislation, just as Florida voters have.

Florida gained national attention for eight-hour lines and voting problems in the 2012 election after Republican lawmakers there enacted similar legislation to limit early voting.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott supported Florida's legislation when he signed it in 2011, but after last fall's debacle, he's now proposing to roll back the restrictions and restore early voting hours.

"North Carolinians love early voting," Riggs said. "North Carolinians love same-day registration."

The groups said they would hold a strategy session next Tuesday, plan to generate as much public and political opposition to the proposals and are prepared to fight any early voting changes in court.

"There are no prohibitions in the constitution as to when a person is able to vote, yet these legislators would now like to confine voting to a particular day in a particular way," Joyner said. "That we reject, and we will fight until hell freezes over."


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  • happilyhere605 Apr 2, 2013

    Trying to explain something to these liberals is like trying to open a box labeled impossible to open..

  • MadMaxx Apr 1, 2013

    The Deadbeats are not going to go anywhere, what other country will support this crowd of dependents on entitlements. For these people Welfare is a Career!

  • Spock Apr 1, 2013

    Keep up the good work! Hopefully the deadbeats will soon leave.

  • NCAries Apr 1, 2013

    Making voting incovenient will not stop some of us but I am sure they are trying to stop most of us.

    I'm with you...unstoppable, regardless the barriers put up, rules devised, laws inacted, or attitudes that prevail.

  • MadMaxx Apr 1, 2013

    No one is taking away any voting. They are just going to limit it to a reasonable time frame. For many years elections were held to vote on one day. What is the problem with that. Most of the constituents of Barber are not going to miss any work anyway since we are supporting them already.

  • free2bme Apr 1, 2013

    Reading a lot of the postings below shows the big problems NC has and the importance of voting so that we elect people who will represent all people. NC will change in time and as predicted in a few years everyone will be a minority. Hopefully at that time we will have officials that will try to relate to all classes of people, nationalities, and races. NC legislature is such a disappointment.

  • free2bme Apr 1, 2013

    The NC GOP Legislature continue to oppress, restrict, and hurt the citizens of NC. They are about big government restricting and controlling the rights of citizens. I say return the estate taxes since NC is in such a mess financially and leave early voting alone- it affects more people. They definitely want to limit voting because more than likely they will not be re-elected. They may try to stop it but I am sure it will not work. I plan to vote regardless of whether it takes 10 hours or 1. Making voting incovenient will not stop some of us but I am sure they are trying to stop most of us.

  • Crumps Br0ther Apr 1, 2013

    Why does "The Community" always have an excuse for everything? How about some personal responsibilty for a change. Terrifying concept isn't it?

  • Crumps Br0ther Apr 1, 2013

    If its that important to you, you will find a way to get there the day of. Yah yah its your right to vote, but you do not have a right to convenience. Not that any of you would know that.

  • NCAries Apr 1, 2013

    Why is it for over 30 years I always have able to vote on election day? There was no bending over backward to make it convenient for me, but I always made it to the polls even if I had to get up and be at the polls when they opened, get a longer lunch or dinner break, or stand in line in the evening to vote at night. I did that because it was important.

    I am guessing convenience comes before importance now.

    Good for you...may not work for others.