Reentry and Voting Rights Groups Request the NC State Board of Elections Issue Clear Guidance to the Public and Elections Officials to Combat Misinformation and Fear for Newly Re-enfranchised Voters
A coalition of local and national groups urge NC State Board of Elections Officials to combat fear, misinformation and disinformation by immediately issuing a Numbered Memo, and conducting public education and media outreach to ensure that newly enfranchised voters are aware that they have an unfettered right to access the ballot in this election as Early Voting is underway
RALEIGH, N.C. – On Friday, October 27th, leaders from Forward Justice, North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, Disability Rights North Carolina, You Can Vote, Community Success Initiative, NC Black Alliance, Black Voters Matter, Wash Away Unemployment, Democracy North Carolina, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, ACLU-North Carolina, NC NAACP, Blueprint NC, Common Cause NC, Emancipate NC, and Justice Served NC sent a letter to State Board of Elections officials calling on them to combat misinformation, disinformation, and confusion about voter eligibility for the states 56,000 newly re-enfranchised citizens.
Forward Justice hosts a dedicated hotline for justice-involved voters to call for assistance and information about their eligibility to vote in 2022: 888-OUR-VOTE. This hotline has received a steady influx of calls and e-mails from newly eligible voters with questions about what the law is, their eligibility to vote, and concerns about potential criminal prosecutions. Advocates have also been made aware that certain County Boards and election officials may be providing incorrect information, such as telling these voters they need documentation from the court that they are allowed to vote. Advocates say these types of issues may cause voters to stay home, blocking them from exercising their constitutional right to vote and having full participation in our democracy.
Daryl Atkinson, Co-director of Forward Justice says, “The level of confusion that still exists for individuals with prior felony convictions about whether they are eligible to vote in this cycle – and specifically what consequences they will face if they exercise their legally protected right to vote— at this late date causes us great concern that many otherwise eligible voters could be chilled from participating due to disinformation, misinformation, and fear. We want every justice-involved voter to understand their new eligibility to access the ballot and make their voice heard in this cycle.”
Groups have asked that the State Board of Elections (SBOE) and other governmental create clear guidance for County Boards of Elections and all election officials; conduct media outreach, and engage in additional educational outreach to newly re-enfranchised voters to clearly communicate the voter eligibility rules and reinforce that these voters can trust the State of North Carolina to protect their right to vote. Advocates say that, since letters are sent to individuals from the SBOE alerting them that they have lost their right to vote, individual letters should also be sent alerting people that their voting rights have been restored.
Specifically, groups are asking the State Board of Elections to issue immediate, unequivocal messaging that:
- All people with felony convictions can register and vote a regular ballot so long as they are otherwise eligible to vote in this state and not currently incarcerated;
- The above-mentioned individuals are not required to provide any type of documentation proving that their rights have been restored to anyone;
- These rules apply to all individuals who are North Carolina residents, regardless of where they were originally convicted or placed on supervision; and
- Voting rights restrictions for individuals with felony convictions from other states are not applicable in North Carolina.
- If voters should have questions about their eligibility or need assistance, they may contact the State Board of Elections, call the non-partisan election protection hotline in North Carolina, 888-OUR-VOTE, or request support from Forward Justice at Legal@forwardjustice.org.
You can read the full letter here.