More than 2,300 North Carolina voters were turned away in the November 2014 election after taking the trouble to fill out extra paperwork that would have allowed each of their ballots to count in 2012.
These silenced voters come from every walk of life: a policeman, minister, prison guard, student, business owner, soldier, office worker, single mother working two jobs, farmer. They are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Unaffiliated – men and women of all races, from all parts of the state.
They are the front-line victims of sweeping changes made to North Carolina’s election law in 2013. They were not blocked by the controversial ID requirement — that part of the law does not take effect until 2016. Rather, they were blocked by the elimination of two back-up, safety provisions that once helped thousands of honest voters make sure their ballots counted.
The loss of these two safety provisions means (1) voters with registration problems, including the Division of Motor Vehicles failing to transfer their registration, can no longer correct those problems during the Early Voting period and successfully vote, because the “same-day registration” law was repealed; and (2) voters can no longer cast a ballot on Election Day at a precinct polling place near their workplace or children’s school, because the old “out-of-precinct voting” law was repealed.
Tens of thousands of voters are affected by these two changes. To find some of them, Democracy North Carolina reviewed 18,000 provisional ballots cast in the November 2014 election. We found 2,344 voters whose provisional ballots would have counted if the safety rules were still in place; instead their ballots were rejected. They were silenced. We are collecting stories from these voters.