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Thursday, September 10, 2015

NC Voter Rights Forum is tonight at 6:30 pm at town hall

Macon County League of Women Voters

Macon Co. League of Women Voters to present N.C.Voter Rights Forum on Sept. 10 in Franklin.

The Macon Co. League of Women Voters will be presenting a forum on “Voter Rights in North Carolina: Barriers and Challenges 50 Years After Passage of the Voter Rights Act,” on Sept. 10, Thursday, at the Franklin Town Hall at 6:30 PM.

In 2013 the NC State Legislature passed controversial new voter ID laws that require the use of a photo ID for voting in person, but not for voting by absentee ballot. The NC Board of Elections has estimated over 300,000 registered voters in N.C. do not have a driver’s license or comparable documentation for obtaining a state-issued photo ID.

The 90-minute forum will include a presentation by Bob Hall, Executive Director of Democracy-NC, a non-partisan voting rights organization based in Durham, N.C., who will highlight recent analysis of the 2014 NC election: “… We have concluded that new voting limitations and polling place problems reduced turnout by at least 30,000 voters in 2014.”

Debbie George with the Macon Co. Board of Elections will clarify recent changes to the photo ID requirement. Other presenters will be Ann Butzner from Buncombe County, a voting rights activist who has led efforts to register the elderly and other marginalized voters in WNC; and Selma Sparks, veteran civil rights activist and journalist from New York City, who now lives in Macon Co. Ms. Sparks was the only female journalist to ever interview Malcolm X. There will also be updates on legal challenges to the NC Voter ID laws.

Susan Ervin with the League says “…there remains considerable confusion over these laws-what is an acceptable photo ID at polling stations; student ID’s are not acceptable, but tribal membership cards are. We fear a confused voter will likely be a non-voter, and this will be a setback to a democracy based on the fundamental right to vote. Our forum is meant to clarify some of these issues.”

The 1965 Federal Voting Rights Act was meant to simplify and expand access to the ballot box. Since 2011, 34 states have introduced voter ID laws. North Carolina has recently become the center of a national discussion over whether these laws constitute voter suppression or ballot “security” to restore confidence in elections.

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan national organization with state [and local chapters in North Carolina], that focuses on voter rights and education, civil rights, and social justice issues.