The sinister side of those campaign mailers:
In the weeks and months leading up to the November 8, 2016 general election, county BOEs throughout North Carolina have been removing large numbers of eligible, registered voters from the voter rolls, in response to coordinated and targeted en masse change-of-address challenges brought under the State’s voter challenge statute by a handful of individuals.
According to the State BOE, in Beaufort, Moore, and Cumberland Counties alone, a small number of individuals have recently challenged the registration of approximately 4,500 voters, based exclusively on mass mailings that were returned as undeliverable. The overwhelming majority of these challenges were brought in August and September 2016, less than 90 days before Election Day. Similar challenges may be occurring in other North Carolina counties as well.
While part of me hopes this situation is dealt with quickly and the purges are stopped, another part of me wishes this case could climb all the way to the (US) Supreme Court. They had no business gutting parts of the Voting Rights Act, and the targeting of African-American voters with these challenges proves their assumption we live in "post-racial" times was both flawed and naive. Here's what happened to some of these voters:
Veronica Ward, a long-time Belhaven resident, initially learned of these systematic challenges occurring in Beaufort County through a news report. On or about October 19, 2016, she saw a list of the 138 challenged voters, and realized that she knew many of the people on the list, a majority of whom are African American. Disturbed by the fact that African Americans appeared to have been targeted by these last-minute en masse voter challenges, Ms. Ward and two other Beaufort County residents immediately reached out to as many of the challenged voters as they could in an effort to offer assistance
in advance of the hearings. In the limited period of time they had before the scheduled formal hearings, they were able to contact 35 of the 138 challenged voters, many of whom were not aware before being contacted by Ms. Ward or her friends that their voter registration status had been challenged. Five of those individuals were scheduled for hearings on October 24, and 30 were scheduled for hearings on October 29.
Ms. Ward and her friends assisted these individuals in drafting affidavits affirming that they live in Beaufort County and are eligible to vote, and presented information at the October 24 and October 29 hearings about these voters’ residency. Several of the individuals they assisted would have had difficulty traveling to attend the hearings themselves.
As a result of Ms. Ward’s and her friends’ efforts, the voting eligibility of all five of the challenged voters they assisted who were scheduled for hearings on October 24 was upheld. Without the assistance of Ms. Ward and her friends, these five eligible voters would in all likelihood have been removed from the voter rolls. Many of the other challenged voters, whom Ms. Ward and her friends were unable to reach in time, were purged from the voter rolls after the October 24 hearing, which they did not attend.
Voters removed from the registration rolls at the October 24 hearing include an individual who the Beaufort BOE members knew continues to reside within the county, Plaintiff James Edward Arthur, Sr. Mr. Arthur is a resident of Washington, North Carolina and has lived in Beaufort County his entire life. He registered to vote in Beaufort County in November 2011, and since then has voted in at least 14 elections. In 2013, he was
admitted to Ridgewood Manor, a nursing home also located in Washington, North Carolina (within Beaufort County), due to an injury he sustained. Mr. Arthur never received any notice from the Beaufort BOE regarding a challenge to his voter registration status, and never received any notice from the Beaufort BOE that a hearing had been set for October 24, 2016. Mr. Arthur wishes to vote in the upcoming November 8, 2016 general election, and had planned to do so, but recently learned that he will be unable to cast a regular ballot on election day because his voter registration has been cancelled. At the October 24 hearing, BOE members discussed that Mr. Arthur had moved into a nursing home within the county, but nonetheless cancelled his registration based on the returned-as-undeliverable mailing sent to the address where he lived prior to the nursing home.
Even when they knew he not only existed, but still lived in the County, they struck him from the rolls.
This isn't some administrative disconnect or unintended consequence, it's part and parcel of the coldly calculated effort to disenfranchise African-American voters. And it must stop.