The community of persons with disabilities in North Carolina now numbers 1.8 million. This past session the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed House Bill 91: In Person Registration & Same Day Voter Registration into law. This important legislation will go a long way in helping us exercise our voting power. There have historically been many barriers to voting for persons with disabilities. These barriers include transportation, inaccessible polling sites, and the lack of ballots in alternative formats. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 was created with the intent to address many of the barriers that exist for our community. Specifically, the Help America Vote Act focused on the physical barriers to polling sites and the introduction of accessible voting machines to permit private and independent voting options for persons with disabilities.
But other barriers still exist. For example, the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the Motor Voter Law, states that providers such as state agencies serving our community must offer voter registration to their consumers. However, according to a National Organization on Disability (NOD)/ Louis Harris poll only 58 percent of people with disabilities are being offered an opportunity to register to vote. House Bill 91 will give our community the ability to register to vote and cast a ballot at early voting sites across our state.
This bill will lessen the impact of the logistical and transportation barriers we face when trying to mobilize our community’s voter turnout on a single election day. Early voting sites allow us multiple days to cast a ballot and mobilize the vote while reducing the transportation crunch on Election Day.
House Bill 91: In-Person Registration & Voting at One-Stop Sites, will allow our community to register to vote and cast our ballot at all early voting sites. Early Voting sites are required to meet the accessibility guidelines as presented in the Help America Vote Act, thereby addressing our community’s concerns over barrier free polling sites.
In an article written by Jim Dickson, AAPD, he points to two important reports regarding access to voting for our community. The first was a poll by Rutgers University that reported “27 percent of nonvoting people with disabilities expect to have access problems at the polls.” The second report was from the General Accounting Office stating that “84 percent of all polling places have some sort of barrier to voters with mobility disabilities.” These barriers, if faced on only one voting day, can deter our community from exercising its electoral power.
If you are asking yourself “how powerful can the vote of the disability community be?”, Brewster Thackeray, the Vice President and Director of Communications with the National Organization on Disability gives us this example: “The week before the 2000 election, a Harris poll conducted for NOD found Vice President Al Gore trailing Texas Governor George W. Bush, 43 to 48 percent. But that same poll found that people with disabilities overwhelmingly supported Gore, 54 to 30 percent. Assuming those latter percentages were indicative of how people vote and knowing that 41 percent of those with disabilities did vote Bush received almost five million votes from this community. Gore got nearly nine million. That difference made a huge impact in this election. With them, Gore won the popular vote. Without them, he would not have.” Thackeray goes on to state that “If people with disabilities voted at the rate of other Americans, Gore would have had a more decisive victory in the popular vote and won the Electoral College. In contrast, if people with disabilities had voted at the lower rate they did in 1996 (31%), Bush would have won the popular vote and secured the Electoral College too.”
The 1.8 million North Carolinians with disabilities are a major voting block, and if mobilized we can have a powerful effect on our state and national policy.
House Bill 91: In-Person Registration & Voting at One-Stop Sites is a step in the direction of offering us more options to mobilize our community.
One Stop Voting sites open October 9, 2007 in North Carolina.
All dates and times are current as of Oct. 1.
WAKE COUNTYOne-stop voting for Oct. 9 general election:
Wake County Board of Elections Office337 S. Salisbury St. RaleighMonday, Oct. 1 to Friday, Oct. 5 - 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday, Oct. 6 - 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.Herbert C. Young Community Center101 Wilkinson Ave., CaryWednesday, Oct. 3 to Friday Oct. 5 - 11a.m. to 7 p.m.Saturday, Oct. 6 - 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
ORANGE COUNTYOne-stop voting for Nov. 6 general election:Orange County Public Library Conference Room300 W. Tryon St., HillsboroughThursday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 19 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Monday, Oct. 22 to Friday, Oct. 26 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Saturday, Oct. 27 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.Monday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Nov. 2 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 3 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.Carrboro Town Hall301 W. Main St, CarrboroMonday, Oct. 22 to Friday, Oct. 26 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Monday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Nov. 2 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 3 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.Chapel Hill Post Office179 East Franklin St., Chapel HillMonday, Oct. 22 to Friday, Oct. 26 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Monday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Nov. 2 - 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 3 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
DURHAM COUNTYOne-stop voting for the Oct. 9 primary election:Durham County Board of Elections706 W. Corporation St., DurhamMonday, Oct. 1 to Friday, Oct. 5 - 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.Sat., Oct. 6 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
CUMBERLAND COUNTYOne-stop voting for the Oct. 9 primary election:Cumberland County Board of Elections301 E Russell St., FayettevilleMonday, Oct. 1 to Friday, Oct. 5 - 8 a.m. to 5p.m.Saturday, Oct.. 6 - 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.One-stop voting for the Nov. 6 general election:Cumberland County Board of Elections301 E Russell St., FayettevilleThursday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 19 - 8 a.m. to 5p.m.Monday, Oct. 22 to Friday, Oct. 26 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Monday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Nov. 2 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 3 - 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
CHATHAM COUNTYOne-stop voting for the Nov. 6 general election:Chatham County Board of Elections984 Thompson St., Suite E1, PittsboroThursday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 19 - 8 a.m. to 5p.m.Saturday, Oct. 20 - 9 a.m. to 1p.m.Monday, Oct. 22 to Friday, Oct. 26 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24)Saturday, Oct. 27 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.Monday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Nov. 2 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21)Saturday, Nov. 3 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
FRANKLIN COUNTYOne-stop voting for the Nov. 6 general election:Franklin County Board of ElectionsHamilton H. Hobgood Courthouse Annex113 S. Main Street, Suite 102, Louisburg,Thursday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 19 - 8 a.m. to 5p.m.Monday, Oct. 22 to Friday, Oct. 26 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Monday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Nov. 2 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 3 - 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
JOHNSTON COUNTYOne-stop voting for the Nov. 6 general election:Johnston County Elections Building205 S. Second St., SmithfieldThursday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 19 - 8 a.m. to 5p.m.Monday, Oct. 22 to Friday, Oct. 26 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Monday, Oct. 29 to Friday, Nov. 2 - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 3 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
PERSON COUNTYOne-stop voting for the Oct. 9 general election:Person County Board of Elections331 S. Morgan St., RoxboroMonday, Oct. 1 to Saturday, Oct. 6 - 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
HOW TO REGISTER AND VOTE AT A ONE-STOP ABSENTEE SITE
A North Carolina resident who is qualified to vote but who misses the 25-day deadline for voter registration may register and vote at a One-Stop Site during the One-Stop Absentee Voting period.
To use this process, a citizen must (1) go to a One-Stop Voting Site in the county of residence during the One Stop Absentee Voting period, (2) fill out a voter registration application, and (3) provide proof of residency by showing the elections official an appropriate form of identification with the citizen’s current name and current address. The new registrant may vote ONLY at a One-Stop Absentee Voting Site in the county of registration during One-Stop Absentee Voting period and not on Election Day.
Acceptable forms of identification include:
· A North Carolina driver’s license with current address
· A utility bill with name and current address
Ø A telephone or mobile phone bill
Ø An electric or gas bill
Ø A cable television bill
Ø A water or sewage bill
· A document with name and current address from a local, state, or U.S. government agency, such as:
Ø A passport
Ø A government-issued photo ID
Ø U.S. military ID
Ø A license to hunt, fish, own a gun, etc.
Ø A property or other tax bill
Ø Automotive or vehicle registration
Ø Certified documentation of naturalization
Ø A public housing or Social Service Agency document
Ø A check, invoice, or letter from a government agency
Ø A birth certificate
· A student photo ID along with a document from the school showing the student’s name and current address
· A paycheck or paycheck stub from an employer or a W-2 statement
· A bank statement or bank-issued credit card statement
If you cannot supply an acceptable form of identification for Proof-of-Residence, your registration application cannot be fully processed until the required information is provided.
(Information gathered from WRAL at http://www.wral.com/ and from the North Carolina State Board of Elections website at http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/ )