Fayetteville, N.C. — As Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine made a surprise visit Monday morning to encourage campaign volunteers, NAACP officials were working furiously to notify thousands of people whose names were removed from voter rolls that they were eligible to vote Tuesday because of a court ruling late last week.
Between 3,500 and 4,500 voters in Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties had their registrations removed after they were challenged by activists. Under state law, any voter can challenge another voter's registration if they live in the same county.
The NAACP sued over the canceled registrations, showing evidence during a federal court hearing last week that some of the mailings used to challenge people's registrations were sent to the wrong address, while other people had been were evacuated after Hurricane Matthew and still others moved within the county but were still eligible to vote. Most of those targeted for removal were minorities.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said the challenges violated a federal law that prohibits systematic removal of voter registrations within 90 days of a federal election and ordered that the people's names be returned to the voter rolls so they could vote in the election.
"The Board of Elections is supposed to do everything they can to get people back in, (but) some people may be scared off. Some people may have been turned away," Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president, said Monday before a get-out-the-vote rally at Evans Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Fayetteville. "This is the kind of thing that cannot exist in our democracy. That's why we're fighting it."
Nakea McCrimmon of Fayetteville said she wasn't allow to vote Saturday because a letter from the Board of Elections addressed to her was returned undeliverable.
Barber urged voters to head to the polls and said that anyone who knows someone whose name was recently removed from voter rolls needs to make sure that they know they have the right to vote on Tuesday.
"None of them should have gotten the letters in the first place. It's a scam," he said. "It's just sending a bunch of letters ou. If they come back undeliverable, then they use this crazy piece of the law to challenge people's right to vote."
The NAACP also planned a 7 p.m. rally and "Moral March to the Polls" at Union Baptist Church in Durham.
Meanwhile, Kaine brought doughnuts to a Democratic campaign office in north Raleigh and urged volunteers to keep pressing get-out-the-vote efforts for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for one more day. Volunteers at the East Millbrook Road office were preparing to canvass area neighborhoods when he showed up before heading to Wilmington and Charlotte for rallies.
"Make sure they get there. Make sure they have a plan – they know where to go, how they're going to get there, set proper amount of time aside," volunteer Vicky DeGroote said. "It's do-or-die time. We've got to get this done right now."
Kaine said North Carolina "knocked it out of the park" with its record early voting turnout, and he said he knows the election will be close in the state, likely coming down to the amount of person-to-person time spent with voters.
"We're really excited with what you are doing, and obviously, here we are on the verge of Election Day and what I think is going to be a history-making race, and I hope you feel that same sense," he said. "The mere fact that (Clinton) is being called the victor will take a whole group of people in this country who have never been able to see themselves as president and tell them, 'You can be president. You can be anything.' So, that's what it's about."