Morrisville, N.C. (3/15/23) — Three major pieces of pro-democracy legislation have been filed at the NC General Assembly in the last two weeks, giving lawmakers an opportunity to rewrite the state’s election playbook so that every North Carolinian has an equal say in the future of our democracy.
This trio of pro-voter bills will make it a crime to intimidate, threaten or engage in violence against election officials, protect voters from coercion, and hold state officials accountable (Safeguard Fair Elections – H372/S313); simplify voting with automatic voter registration and make it fairer and safer while also removing big money from politics (Fix Our Democracy – H362/S306); and protect the right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, combat election subversion, and ensure elections are fully funded (Freedom to Vote – H293/S226). Funding is key to strengthening North Carolina’s election infrastructure, and adopting the Freedom to Vote Act would restore critical resources to our State Board of Elections.
In the last two years, lawmakers across the nation have passed an unprecedented number of bills restricting voting access and targeting the authority of state and local election officials. Many new laws empower state officials to take control of county election boards, strip secretaries of state of their executive authority, or make local election officials criminally or financially liable for even technical errors. This legislation is a counterpoint to such power grabs.
“At a moment in our state and nation where we are seeing attacks on freedoms at every level of government, this slate of bills is a real chance for our state leaders to protect voters and safeguard elections while also instilling faith in our democratic processes – faith that has been shaken by events in recent years,” said Cheryl Carter, Co-Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina. “Having this trio of bills filed, advanced, and ultimately passed by our state representatives sends a clear, powerful message to the people: more work is needed to protect voter freedoms, election officials, and combat political corruption. We know there continue to be efforts to silence and bar North Carolinians from the ballot box, particularly those in Black and brown communities, and we are making efforts to correct those injustices. Yet there is still hope for transformational, pro-democracy policy in this state, and we can only succeed when everyone has the ability to participate in our democratic systems, at all levels.”
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.