Courts & the Law, COVID-19, Defending Democracy, News, Voting

Voting rights advocates vow to keep fighting for fair, accessible, just election

(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Questions about what the upcoming election will look like in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic have been circulating for weeks in North Carolina.

House lawmakers introduced a bipartisan measure to address some concerns about accessibility to the ballot, but later the same day, a number of voting rights organizations filed a federal lawsuit challenging several of the state’s registration and voting requirements, including the witness requirement for absentee ballot signatures, limited registration period for new voters, and the lack of safe accommodations for in-person polling places.

Advocates have praised the measure, House Bill 1169, but they’ve also pointed to issues it doesn’t address, like prepaid postage for by-mail absentee ballots and contactless drop boxes where ballots could be dropped off.

Tomas Lopez, executive director of Democracy NC also said lawmakers haven’t been able to work in a bipartisan fashion on other important democratic issues so voters have to be vigilant. “None of us are here calling for an all-mail election,” he said, adding that there still needed to be measures in place to protect a system that was not built for a surge of absentee ballots.

Lopez and other advocates representing more than 30 national and local civil and voting rights and social justice organizations held a virtual press conference to preview a virtual day of action tomorrow. It’s expected to serve as a unify and mobilize people to assert that they will fight “from now until November” for a just democracy.

House lawmakers will discuss HB 1169 at a House Elections and Ethics Law Committee at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The virtual day of action events begin at 2 p.m.

The #ProtectOurVoteNC Virtual Day of Action corresponds with the continuation of the General Assembly’s short session when legislators are making crucial decisions that could shape the state’s 2020 elections. Participating organizations are fighting barriers to voting imposed by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, as well those who are using a deadly pandemic for political gain and profits.

“Even through our grief, our anger, our sorrow and pain, and yes, our fears, we will stay in covenant with our long history of fighting for a representative democracy that lives up the hopes of our ancestors and ambitions of children’s greatest dreams,” said the Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman. “Our voice matters; our votes matter; our lives matter.”

“North Carolina is a testing ground for this nation,” Spearman said. “The fight over our democracy has dominated cycles and cycles of news coverage. We have won tremendous victories against bold, unapologetic efforts to silence and suppress the voices of Black voters, LatinX, the poor, women, immigrants and workers. Tomorrow we’re calling on the North Carolina General Assembly to turn the page on that chapter and commit to making North Carolina a laboratory for making our democracy the most accessible in this nation, the most free, the most fair, the most just, the most safe.”

Democracy North Carolina, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and six individual voters filed the federal lawsuit late Friday. They are represented by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Fair Elections Center and pro bono counsel from law firm WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. Read the full lawsuit below.



Complaint LWV Dem NC (Text)

One Comment


  1. James Witeck

    May 27, 2020 at 6:14 am

    I am 73 years old and would prefer not to endanger my life by voting in person this November. I urge the Committee to pass HB 1169 and allow for safe and easier voting. To do otherwise is unconscionable. My family has already risked this once. My brother participated in MLK’s protest in Selma, Alabama in April 1965 and was nearly murdered trying to protect the right to vote. Pass this bill!!!

Check Also

Report: NC receives failing grade in response to COVID-19 in jails

In a report released this month, the ACLU ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis backs legislation that would declare a widespread class of toxic [...]

Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, was scheduled to be executed today at the Federal Correctional Institute in Te [...]

NC State evaluators warn, however, of basic problems in the program's structure Buoyed by a fav [...]

Julia Pimentel Gudiel came to North Carolina from Guatemala for her children. While her four kids st [...]

The post The GOP’s Back-in-Class or Bust express appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

CHAPEL HILL – Several of my White friends and colleagues have asked me recently what changes are req [...]

For the past month, there has been much said about the current racial climate in America. The eyes o [...]

If ever there was a year in which it is a good thing to be past the midway point, 2020 would appear [...]