NC election law changes impact the masses

Check that voter registration card

By Stephanie Carson
Public News Service-NC

RALEIGH — North Carolina voters have one month left to make sure they’re registered to vote in their home precinct. Changes to the election laws brought about by the state’s new voting law passed last year eliminate same-day registration, and also a voter’s ability to cast a ballot in a precinct other than their own on Election Day.

election2014logoAnita Buck of Carteret County learned about the new law the hard way in May, after she had registered her car at a temporary address – and unknowingly affected her voter registration. She said she has since rectified the problem.

“I’ve been voting since I was 18, so I know the duty of it,” she said. “I went and did it; and the good news is, I can vote this November – but I had no clue that it affected me.”

Buck is one of 400 people who filed provisional ballots in the primary that would have counted prior to the election-law changes – but did not in May.

Democracy North Carolina and other citizens’ groups are working to remind voters to check on their registration status and home precinct by the Oct. 10 deadline. More information is online at NCvoter.org.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said the state’s new voting laws have a disproportionate impact on soldiers, nurses, people living with disabilities, students and older citizens. He reminded people that it isn’t difficult to correct your registration – if you discover that it needs a correction in time to get it done.

“Here we are, 30 days away from the Oct. 10 deadline,” he said. “So, in this next 30 days, everybody needs to look up your registration – make sure it’s current. Make sure it’s at your current address.”

Hall said he believes while provisional ballots indicate the changes affected at least 400 people, there are many more who most likely walked away from the polls in May without using a provisional ballot.

“There are many, many thousands of others that were turned away who didn’t even bother to do that during the primary,” he said. “And of course the primary is when you have light turnout. So, it’s a big concern that people are already being harmed by the new law.”

Picture IDs are not required in this election. That requirement doesn’t take effect until 2016, and is currently being challenged in court by the U.S. Justice Department and civil rights groups.

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