This week’s post is different from most. I am working hard on a voter protection project and have not been able to work on an article as well! But, I thought you might be interested in hearing about the project, so read on to find out more…..
Last week, I committed to working on voter safety with organizations across North Carolina at the early voting polls. I am humbled to do this work with over 4,000 others who are rightfully concerned that voter intimidation may happen at their polls. Additionally, each of the political parties will have up to two poll watchers inside the polls and a poll watcher outside. While I am a white person who has the privilege of going to vote without worrying about harassment, many North Carolinians have great trepidation about exercising their right. Living in North Carolina, where we have many different factions of white supremacist groups along with President Trump’s call for his supporters to go watch at the polls, there will no doubt be some places where there may be attempts at voter intimidation. Our state has a history of voter intimidation, including in the spring primaries this year, so we need to be especially vigilant.
Our specific coalition will provide PPE, activities for children, food, chairs for those who need one, and keep an eye out for any signs of voter suppression or intimidation and report it to election officials. Because we anticipate long lines, it is important to keep people comfortable and engaged as they wait. This is a huge undertaking with 16 days of early voting to cover. While we cannot be everywhere at once, we have identified places with a history of white supremacy activity and have focused our efforts at those polling sites.
While I am excited to do this work and do what I can to help make our elections safe and secure, I feel a profound sense of sadness that this work is necessary. So many people are having to put so much energy into making sure that everyone has the ability to exercise their right to vote without intimidation. What does this say about the state of our democracy? It saddens me that the divisions are so stark that we expect bad behavior. If each volunteer works a 5-hour shift, that is 20,000 hours of time given to guaranteeing a safe election. What if the collective hours that these people are putting into creating safe elections could be put toward tutoring, supporting the homeless, or other civic causes?
The fact that these bad actors can cause such fear and disruption in our electoral process tells me that the implementation of the anti-voter suppression laws is not strong enough to deter the practice. We need to be serious about prosecuting those who break the election laws and cause fear in Americans who simply want their voice heard.