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TVoting rightshe leaders of the North Carolina NAACP and Democracy North Carolina held a brief press conference outside Gov. McCrory’s office this morning to highlight their demand that the Governor explain the precipitous and troubling drop-off in voter registrations at state public assistance offices.

As was reported here and in several other places last week, a 1993 federal law mandates that state public assistance offices affirmatively reach out to clients with whom they interact to give them the opportunity to register to vote. Since the advent of the McCrory administration’s control of state Department of Health and Human Services offices, however, such registrations have dropped precipitously — from an average of more than 2,000 per month to an average of less than 700 per month.

Today the NAACP submitted a letter to the Governor on behalf the Forward Together Moral Movement asking two things:

1) That the Governor address the issue and explain what the heck has happened by this Wednesday, and

2)  That his office and that of DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos provide expedited responses to several demands for public records related to the issue — perhaps most importantly, any correspondence between DHHS headquarters and local public assistance offices related to the issue voter registration.

NAACP President Rev. William Barber explained during today’s event that the Governor’s response (or lack thereof) would dictate whether or not his organization would seek a federal Department of Justice investigation of the matter.

Let’s hope that, for a change, the McCrory administration treats the matter with the seriousness it deserves. As NAACP lawyer Al McSurely pointed out this morning, the rapid decline in voter registrations over the past two years has, by all indication, resulted in as many as 40,000 fewer lower-income people being registered to vote in North Carolina. This is obviously a huge issue that is especially troubling in light of the efforts of conservative lawmakers to advance the so-called “Monster Voting Law” that has erected several new roadblocks to voting in North Carolina.

Stay tuned.

News

Here’s the latest statement from advocates in response to this morning’s story about the remarkable crash in voter registrations at North Carolina public assistance offices since the beginning of the McCrory administration:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VOTING RIGHTS ADVOCATES CALL ON NORTH CAROLINA TO TAKE ACTION AFTER VOTER REGISTRATIONS DROP SHARPLY AT STATE PUBLIC ASSISTANCE OFFICES

(Raleigh, NC) – Citing clear evidence that the state of North Carolina is failing its obligation to provide low-income residents with a meaningful opportunity to register to vote at public assistance agencies, today Democracy North Carolina, Action NC, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute (“APRI”) sent a pre-litigation notice letter to Kim Strach, Executive Director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections (“NCSBE”), as well as Dr. Aldona Wos, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”).

According to the letter, voter registration applications initiated at public assistance agencies have dropped dramatically since Gov. Pat McCrory took office. The number of applications originating from such agencies fell from an annual average of 38,400 between 2007 and 2012 to an average of only 16,000 in the last two years, a decline of more than 50 percent.

The notice letter—sent on behalf of the voting rights groups by attorneys from D?mos, Project Vote, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice—gives the state 90 days to come into compliance with the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”) or face litigation.

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Commentary
Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County

Sometimes, one has to admit that the forces of the universe are possessed of a wicked sense of humor. Witness this story in today’s Washington Post and the new study on which it is based. According to both, preregistering teens to vote so that they become eligible upon turning 18 does in fact increase participation and turnout — exactly what advocates for the practice have been saying for years.

Here, however, is the LOL kicker from the Post story:

“You might think that anything that increases the turnout of young people would inevitably benefit Democrats, since young people lean toward the Democratic Party.  But that is not what Holbein and Hillygus found.  Although preregistration tended to add more Democrats than Republicans to the rolls — simply because more young people registered as Democrats — it actually reduced the Democratic advantage among those young people who actually voted.”

You got that, Senator Rucho? By repealing teen preregistration as they did in the Monster Voting Law of 2013, North Carolina Republicans quite likely hurt themselves.

As you will recall, when pressed for an explanation for the move to repeal teen preregistration, Rucho, the Senate architect of the proposal said that the old law had been “very confusing” to his high school-aged son. And while this explanation was widely dismissed at the time as a rather transparent bit of excuse making, the new study seems to confirm that maybe Rucho was being straight. After all, by all indications, failing to understand how voting and voting laws law really work is something that runs in the Rucho family.

Commentary

Nuns tour 4There’s still significant hope that North Carolina’s new voter suppression laws will eventually be sent to the trash bin where they belong — either by the courts, future state leaders or both. For now, however, North Carolinians will have to make do under the current rigged regime if they want to make their voices heard.

So, this means the deadline to register for the November 4 election is TOMORROW — October 10.

Click here for the hows, whens and wheres and then spread the word far and wide.

News

Nuns on the busThe one and only Nuns on the Bus are bringing their truly unique “get out the vote” tour to North Carolina this week. Click here to listen to NOTB Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell explain what the tour is all about. Here’s the schedule:

Oct 4, 2014 (9:30 am) Civil Rights Remembrance and Call to Vote Governmental Plaza (Between City of Greensboro & Guilford County Courthouse)
300 Washington Street, Greensboro, NC 27401
RSVP
Oct 4, 2014 (2:00 pm) Rally at the Capitol North Carolina State Capitol
1 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC , Raleigh, NC 27601
RSVP
Oct 4, 2014 (6:30 pm) Multicultural Festival & Voter Registration Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
810 W Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701
RSVP
Oct 5, 2014 (8:30 am) Pot Luck Breakfast Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
1801 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27605
RSVP
Oct 5, 2014 (11:00 am) Sunday Worship Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
1801 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27605
RSVP
Oct 5, 2014 (2:30 pm) Voter Forum Sycamore Chapel Missionary Baptist Church
1360 Farmville Blvd., Greenville, NC 27834
RSVP
Oct 6, 2014 (10:00 am) Voter Registration YWCA Asheville
85 S French Broad Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
RSVP
Oct 6, 2014 (7:00 pm) Forum (Ticket Required) Poverty Forum at Diana Wortham Theatre
2 S Pack Square, Asheville, NC 28801
Oct 7, 2014 (3:00 pm) Site Visit YWCA Central Carolinas
3420 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209
RSVP
Oct 7, 2014 (6:00 pm) Town Hall for the 100% St. Peter’s Catholic Church
501 South Tyron Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
RSVP