RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Progressive groups in North Carolina will work with faith leaders of all denominations and people of all ethnicities to sign up as many voters as possible between now and 25 days before the March primary, when registration ends, their leaders said Tuesday.
Working with the theme of “it’s our time and it’s our vote,” the state chapter of the NAACP and Democracy North Carolina will lead the call to register voters in faith centers, barbershops, beauty salons, schools and workplaces, said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina. “We will engage over 3,000 churches and faith centers in the largest souls to the polls campaign this state has ever seen,” Hall said during a news conference at Martin Street Baptist Church.
More than 600,000 eligible whites aren’t registered to vote in the state, along with more than 280,000 blacks and more than 100,000 Latinos, said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP.
“Let it be clear and let it be known: We’ve gone to court together. We’ve gone to jail together. We’ve gone in the street together. And we will go to the ballot box together,” Barber said.
Four lawsuits — three in federal court and one in state court — that challenge all or parts of a 2013 election overhaul law approved by the General Assembly are pending. The three federal lawsuits have been combined into one case and are being heard together.
All seek to block a provision creating a photo identification mandate to vote in person in 2016. Legislators changed that provision this year to allow more people to vote without a qualifying identification. The federal lawsuits also challenge changes already being implemented that reduced the number of early voting days, barred same-day registration during the early-voting period and prohibited counting ballots cast on Election Day in the incorrect precinct.
In addition to the voter registration drive, coalition volunteers are attending meetings of county election boards to support weekend and evening hours for voting, Hall said. More than 30 county boards will meet over the next two weeks, he said.
The photo ID law will begin with the March primary if the court doesn’t wipe it out, Hall said.
“And we must educate voters with a message that regardless of all the confusion and all the complexity, you can vote,” Hall said. “In fact, you must vote. You must push back and show your resistance to any effort to make voting harder.”