MORRISVILLE N.C. (4/29/2022) – North Carolina voters flocked to the polls on Thursday for the kick-off of in-person Early Voting for the 2022 Primary.
During the 2020 General Election, the state and nation faced tremendous uncertainty as voters navigated casting their ballot either in person or via mail during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the pandemic continues, the first day of Early Voting this year saw overall lower levels of initial confusion and fewer reports of challenges for voters (such as prohibitively long wait lines) as well as concerns surrounding voter access.
However, there continue to be challenges for voters such as confusion around changing party affiliation, as well as reports of voter intimidation, a major point of concern. Through Democracy North Carolina’s voter hotline and Vote Protector program, the organization will remain vigilant throughout the 2022 election cycle to ensure voters have the information they need and means of reporting any concerns or challenges they come across.
Democracy North Carolina owns and operates the nonpartisan voter hotline, 888-OUR-VOTE, where callers may ask questions about how to register to vote and cast a ballot in North Carolina or report voting problems. The hotline received unprecedented levels of calls during the Early Voting period prior to the 2020 General Election, with more than 1,100 logged in the first day alone.
With only a few dozen calls received from across the state on the first day of early voting this year, in addition to tips from staff and volunteers located at precincts, hotline volunteers were at the ready to receive any questions.
“In this case, no news is good news,” said Caroline Fry, Interim Advocacy Director with Democracy North Carolina. “Having received an unparalleled number of calls in 2020, we were even better prepared and equipped to respond to and track all calls we received. We will remain at the ready throughout early voting, as well as the primary and General Election days, to respond to any concerns that voters have about access, misinformation, and more. We encourage any voter with questions – no matter how small – or facing challenges at the polls to call the hotline.”
Democracy North Carolina also hosts the nonpartisan Voter Protection program to ensure every eligible voter in our state can register to vote and successfully cast their ballot, in spite of challenges such as changes to election law, the pandemic, and poll worker shortages. On the first day of Early Voting, 48 Vote Protectors were located at 16 counties across the state to monitor and make note of long lines, problems with curbside voting and accessibility, voter confusion, misinformation, and voter suppression and intimidation.
“In addition to escalating issues to the hotline, Vote Protectors are trained on answering commonly asked questions from voters,” said Carol Moreno, Policy and Programs Associate at Democracy North Carolina. “This can be essential in rural areas that may need additional support. In 2020, rejection rates for provisional ballots were higher – and this was often due to voters showing up at the incorrect polling place on Election Day, or not being registered to vote. Vote Protectors can help correct these issues, enfranchising more voters.”
Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that strengthens democratic structures, builds power among disenfranchised communities, and inspires confidence in a transformed political process that works for all.