Today is Primary Election Day. Are you confused? That could be by design. By redrawing district lines to exclude some disenfranchised voters and make it difficult for them to vote, the North Carolina legislature has picked a fight with the federal court system. Today’s oddly timed election is a result of two different lawsuits.
This primary may seem a little off the radar, but it’s important because we have the chance to vote in an election in which all people are equally represented.
Back in 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly redistricted congressional districts. Many argue that the redrawn district lines minimize the voting power of African American North Carolinians. For example, legislators packed a disproportionate number of black people into NC’s 12th congressional district, creating a strange, sprawling cluster that stretches all the way from Greensboro to Charlotte.
But the disenfranchisement doesn’t stop there.
In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Voter ID law, which has been shown to hurt women, minorities, and the elderly because we face the most barriers to attaining acceptable forms of photo ID. The NAACP and the League of Women Voters sued to contest this controversial law, but the Supreme Court upheld the decision.
In 2014, our leadership tried to disenfranchise young people by shutting down polling locations on college campuses, most famously in Watauga County at Appalachian State. When I was in college I didn’t have car, and I was fortunate to live on a campus with a polling place. By shutting down the campus polling places, most students have no time or means for voting.
Luckily there’s a bright spot.
After a four-year lawsuit, the Supreme Court ordered North Carolina to redraw our congressional district lines. They determined that the 12th district was drawn based on race — and is in violation of the Voting Rights Act which protects against representation based on race.
I’m taking pride in voting today because as a young black woman, people like me have been discouraged from voting. When women and minorities vote, we tend to see better policies for healthcare, education, and affordable childcare.
For voter information, visit the NC Board of Elections site, check out your sample ballot for both U.S. Representative and NC Supreme Court Justices, and head to your polling place.
So don’t miss the primary today. You are powerful. If your vote didn’t matter, people wouldn’t work so hard to take it away.
Here’s everything you need to know:
- The polls are open today from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bring your photo ID if you have one.
- You can still vote without photo ID. You will simply need to sign a declaration at your polling place saying you don’t have access the accepted forms of photo ID.
- You are voting today for: (1) State Supreme Court, (2) a handful of local races, and (3) US Representatives in 11 of NC’s 13 Congressional districts.
- Absentee ballots must be delivered to the appropriate county elections office by today at 5:00 p.m. However, absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day will be accepted through Friday, June 10th for civilians and through June 13th for military members.
- Same-day voter registration is available today.