North Carolina has to make some changes to its voting laws for the upcoming general election thanks to a July federal court ruling that called the state's 2013 voting law "discriminatory." Some protesters are helping to keep those changes honest.
The Guilford County Board of Elections changed a plan to eliminate early voting sites after hundreds of protesters turned out for a public meeting to challenge the scheme.
The emergency meeting was made necessary due to a federal court decision overturning a North Carolina voting law. Every North Carolina county needs to come into compliance with pre-2013 voting regulations, and Guilford County offers only 10 days of early voting compared with the required 17.
A plan suggested by the Republican members of the commission, the Greensboro News and Record reported, would have cut 12 of the current 25 polling sites, effectively halving the number of places to vote.
Protesters did not take kindly to this plan, filling the old Guilford County Courthouse to capacity to make their voices heard, according to the Triad City Beat. When it became clear that commissioners would not be taking public comments, they began to disrupt the meeting with chanting and singing.
The three commissioners—one Democrat and two Republican—did eventually announce a compromise plan at the end of the evening. All of the 25 voting sites would remain open for the originally-planned 10 days, and early voting would also be available for the additional seven days at the county's elections board office.
While the plan does afford more early voting hours than in 2013, when the struck-down voting law was passed, activists were still frustrated that access was not expanded further.
“They chose to limit hours, and locations during the first week,” Democracy NC organizer Linda Sutton told the Beat. “That will put a burden on this office and restrict voting by the more than half of African-American voters who vote early.”
All of North Carolina's 100 counties will need to re-evaluate their voting plans before the upcoming election due to the court's decision, so get ready for more meetings like this one.