Via e-mail from Director Bryan Perlmutter:
Enthusiastic students from Elizabeth City State University held a march from campus to the early voting site last Thursday, September 19 – the first of early voting. Eager to take advantage of Same Day Registration, the students brought documents and identification. However, the all-white poll workers
(Elizabeth City is less than 40% white) immediately acted hostile towards the students. Outside, campaigners for the white mayoral candidate proceeded to tell students that they should not be allowed to vote.
It's looking more and more like the (US) Justice Department is going to need to intervene in certain areas of North Carolina, just like they had to do a half-century ago. Until then, responsible citizens need to look out for those on the sharp end of the discriminatory stick. Here's the release in its entirety:
It’s Already Started: Student Voter Suppression Hits NC on the First Day of
Elizabeth City, N.C.—On September 19, early voting opened in Pasquotank
County, home to Elizabeth City State University, an HBCU (Historically Black
College or University). Earlier this year, ECSU Senior Montravias King
initially had his application to run for City Council denied by the
Pasquotank County Board of Elections. While King had been a campus resident,
and had voted in Elizabeth City for the past three years, the Board of
Elections cited residency issues as the justification. The ensuing legal
battle between King and the Board of Elections gained national attention and
was even featured on the Rachel Maddow Show. Ultimately, the State Board of
Elections overturned the initial ruling, allowing King to run. However, the
Pasquotank County Elections Board challenge to his candidacy is just another
incident in a long history of suppressing black student votes and targeting
black elected officials.
Enthusiastic students from Elizabeth City State University held a march from
campus to the early voting site last Thursday, September 19 – the first of
early voting. Eager to take advantage of Same Day Registration, the students
brought documents and identification. However, the all-white poll workers
(Elizabeth City is less than 40% white) immediately acted hostile towards the
students. Outside, campaigners for the white mayoral candidate proceeded to
tell students that they should not be allowed to vote.
When students attempted to register and vote, seven students were turned away
because of what poll workers deemed “improper identification.” Students
who presented a residence assignment from the University, which included
their name and dorm number, were told that this agreement was not a valid
form of identification. After arguing with poll workers, students were told
that if they used their dorm assignment papers, they could “expect their
votes to be challenged.” Additionally, poll workers asked students, “Do
you plan on abandoning your homes?” This question was used to establish if
the university address was indeed their residence. Of course, the U.S.
Supreme Court already ruled, in the 1979 case of Symm vs. United States, that
college students have the Constitutional right to vote where they attend
school. However, those working the polls in Elizabeth City are still trying
to silence students who want to vote in their local elections and affect the
communities they live in.
On Sunday, September 22, the NC Vote Defenders went to ECSU to provide
training on election protection and poll monitoring. Participants included
The Links, a local women’s faith-based organization, students in the
Elizabeth City University NAACP Youth and Student Chapter, and members of the
Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Starting today, The Links will begin monitoring polls to advocate and
document instances of suppression at the only early voting site in the
county. Additionally, students are organizing another march to the polls.
They are also gearing up to monitor the precincts near campus on Election
Day. The NC Vote Defenders are helping to organize students and provide
training for election protection work here at ECSU. Vote Defenders will also
be working at NC State, Appalachian State, and UNC-Charlotte. Just two days
into early voting, we have already encountered mass voter suppression.
Students and youth are organizing to protect the right of students to vote.
We will not stand for this.