North Carolina

North Carolina has long been one of the leading voter suppression states in America. Due to Republicans keeping control of the state legislature in 2018, North Carolina continues to lead the way in anti-voter policies. To make it worse, due to the Supreme Court’s decision on partisan gerrymandering, North Carolina voters will be forced to again vote under an undemocratic, discriminatory Congressional map in 2020. However, North Carolina voters received a major win in the fight against gerrymandering this September when a North Carolina state court struck down North Carolina’s legislative map as a partisan gerrymander. Lawmakers in the state have until September 18 to draw new, fair maps. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has said they will not enter the partisan gerrymandering fight, state courts may be used to challenge gerrymandered maps more in the future.

This session, North Carolina Democrats have pushed for establishing an independent, non-partisan redistricting commission (H648H69H140S673H827). It is hard to overstate how important independent redistricting is to democracy in North Carolina. When given the chance in 2011, North Carolina Republicans drew the most extreme partisan gerrymandered legislative maps in the country. North Carolina needs to establish an independent redistricting commission before redistricting in 2021 to ensure that North Carolina has fair maps.

Since North Carolina has been a hotbed of voter suppression and gerrymandering, it was encouraging to see Democratic lawmakers pushing pro-democracy policies to clean up elections in the state. This session, North Carolina Democrats introduced the Let North Carolina Vote Act (H589). The common sense legislation would have enacted automatic, online, and Election Day voter registration, extend early voting opportunities, and require counties to provide voters with a free photo ID to comply with identification laws. North Carolina Democrats also introduced other comprehensive election reform bills called the “Fix Our Democracy” acts (H574S641). Unfortunately, the measures failed due to Republican politicians. This was a loss for free and fair elections, but we hope North Carolina lawmakers will continue to push for these policies in the future.

North Carolina Democrats introduced other pro-voting legislation that did not advance, including automatic and online voter registration (S495H691), curbside voting for caregivers (H818), expanding and increasing flexibility in early voting (H893), requiring prepaid return envelopes for absentee ballots (H743), and moes to fight back against Citizens United (H512). A Democratic bill (H314S656) to move forward a constitutional amendment to repeal a literacy test wasn’t even able to more forward due to Republican opposition.

After the Republican absentee voter fraud that occurred in 2018, North Carolina Democrats pushed for legislation (S683) to combat that form of voter fraud. Not too surprisingly, it didn’t pass. Republicans also continued to push legislation that may make it harder to vote, including potentially restricting the use of schools as polling places (H24), 

In bittersweet news, North Carolina did pass legislation (H646) to allow more student IDs to be used as voter identification at polling places. Although the bill shouldn’t have been needed as voter ID laws are unnecessary barriers to voting, it is an improvement on the status quo.