Democracy NC outlines new voting laws to DCIA
Durham Congregations In Action members learned about changes to North Carolina voting laws and how it could impact their congregations during its monthly meeting this week. DCIA is a collaboration of about 60 congregations.
Adam Sotak, organizing director of Democracy North Carolina, was the guest speaker at the event held at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
Sotak called the 2013 General Assembly voting legislation “the worst voter suppression bill in the United States.” But the rules are what they are now, he said, and outlined information about changes to voting. Democracy NC is nonpartisan, he said.
There is no more same-day registration, and early voting has been shortened, he said. Older people who aren’t able to get out of their homes to polling places may vote by absentee ballot, Sotak said, and he provided copies of state absentee ballot request forms that congregations can give to members.
The new law that photo identification is required to vote does not go in effect until 2016, Sotak said, but for the May 6 primary, voters will be asked if they have a photo ID. If they don’t, they should be placed on a list to find out how to get one, he said. Democracy NC and North Carolina Council of Churches have partnered for Operation Jumpstart the Vote to help voters get photo IDs. Jumpstart will also help people register to vote, get to the polls, and enlist volunteers to protect voters’ rights. N.C. Council of Churches represents 17 Christian denominations and recently reaffirmed its “decades-long commitment to the right of all citizens to vote under rules that are fair, reasonable and wholly in the spirit of America’s representative democracy,” according to the council.
Sotak said volunteers will be at the polls to survey voters about their voting experience and look for any problems that may occur.
“We’re looking to document, see how the new rules and laws are affecting folks,” he said.
Sotak also shared 10 tips for congregations who plan to hold voter registration drives. Tips include choosing the right time and location, having plenty of registration forms and supplies, being nonpartisan, training volunteers and turning in all forms to the elections board.
For information about Democracy NC, visit www.democracy-nc.org. For information about Durham voting, visit http://dconc.gov.
The next DCIA meeting will be held at 11:45 a.m. May 20 at Beth El Synagogue, 1004 Watts St., Durham. The topic will be youth employment readiness and Partners for Youth Opportunity. For information, visit www.dcia.org.