Democracy in Action at the North Carolina General Assembly
In 2021, the North Carolina General Assembly fast-tracked hundreds of bills for the legislative long session, marking a critical time for pro-voter policies and initiatives across the political spectrum.
In a time famously known as “Crossover Week”, a deadline written into our state legislature that ensures any bills, without an appropriation or finance provision, can pass in one chamber and be sent to the other, House members filed 969 bills, and Senators filed 721. The House passed 336 bills by the crossover deadline — a little more than a third — and the Senate passed 156, about a quarter of those filed.
Democracy NC tracked MANY critical bills which sought to threaten the very foundation of democracy, and are purposely anti-voter, and anti-democratic.
In the past few months, hundreds of anti-voter bills have been filed in dozens of states across the nation, and North Carolina lawmakers have decided to follow suit proposing Senate Bill 326, Senate Bill 724, and Senate Bill 725, their attempt to blatantly obstruct every North Carolinian’s freedom to vote. As a direct reaction to historic high voter turnout in 2020, this anti-voter bill builds harsh barriers for Black, brown and indigenous communities, older adults in residential living facilities, and voters with disabilities. It is a set of sweeping Jim Crow-era voter suppression tactics.
Under the guise of so-called “Election Integrity,” SB 326 was originally drafted as a way to rationalize anti-democracy efforts to further suppress voters, particularly Black, Brown, and Indigenous populations, that use legal and viable voting options such as voting by mail.
Now, certain anti-voter provisions that were originally in SB 326—like restricting non profits from providing funding to local election administrators, only to provide restricted funds for a racist voter ID law— have been drafted into separate bills, fast-tracking each voter barrier without much discussion or public comment.
We are at a pro-democracy turning point for North Carolina. This is where we decide if we will move forward together to protect our freedom to vote and ensure that we all have a say in the key decisions that impact us or whether we will allow a minority of politicians to take away our rights.
YOUR VOTE MATTERS EVEN MORE IN 2021
Care about racial injustice and police conduct? Affordable housing? Taxes, transportation, public safety, and the cost of utilities? Your mayor and city council have a big influence over policies that affect your life. Most cities have elections this year, and a few hundred votes may determine who wins or loses. Many school boards are also holding elections, determining who cares for our kids amid crisis such as COVID.
All elections are important, but typically only a small number of people vote in an off year election. That means you and your allies can have an even bigger impact when educating and mobilizing local voters in 2021. Learn more about this election year at ncvoter.org.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO VOTE
Following North Carolina’s massive voter roll removals in 2019, registration issues were a common reason for rejected ballots cast on Election Day in 2020. But access to North Carolina’s online voter registration portal throughout 2021 means more people can register to vote online or update their voter registration before arriving on Election Day, without the need for a printer, stamps, or access to advocacy groups to send in a paper form while staying safe. Learn how to look up your registration status and register online at demnc.co/register.
PUMPING OUR VOICES INTO THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE
Our fight for fair maps, defending fair courts, and expanding fair votes continues in 2021. That means we need to get creative to pressure our legislators to do the right thing. Our “Democracy Action” platform includes defending (and in some cases expanding) voter access from 2020, fighting for an independent and transparent independent redistricting process, and providing unprecedented coverage of pro-democracy work happening in at the North Carolina General Assembly and beyond.