North Carolina is projected to be a “swing state” by analysts for the 2016 presidential election, yet its election law changes and redistricting still are being challenged in court. If the 2014 election is any indication, there is cause for concern, according to a Democracy North Carolina report released today that estimates that at least 30,000 voters did not vote in that election because of new voting limitations and polling-place problems. Report co-author Isela Gutierrez, Democracy North Carolina’s research director, said the state needs to take time to make sure the 2016 elections go smoothly. “We don’t want to become a national joke,” she said. “We have time now to take the right, proactive action to make sure voting goes smoothly in North Carolina, even if these restrictive new laws are not overturned by the courts.”
The state Board of Elections just concluded a series of nine hearings to help educate voters around the state on the voting-law changes, which include the requirement of a state-issued photo ID starting next year and the elimination of straight-ticket voting and out-of precinct voting, which took effect in 2014. Verdicts in the court challenges are expected in the fall, but since appeals are expected, Gutierrez said, the final decisions aren’t likely until next year.