Update on Voting Rights Legislation: H 589 VIVA/Election Reform

Vote

On Tuesday, ASNC alerted the public that changes made to H 589 would threaten the rights of individuals with guardianship to vote. Thank you for your advocacy on this issue: You were heard!  We can now report that Senator Apodaca introduced an amendment to the bill on the floor of the Senate Wednesday night that passed 48 in favor to 0 opposed. That amendment took section 34,  which changed who can assist people with guardianship supports in voting. This problematic  section was turned into a study.  Section 34 now reads:

“The Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee shall study ways to improve protections for persons requiring assistance in voting places, and recommend to the General Assembly any legislation it deems advisable. It may make an interim report prior to the date that the General Assembly reconvenes the 2013 Regular Session in 2014, and shall make a final report before the convening of the 2015 Regular Session of the General Assembly.”

Other sections of the bill including those that end same day registration, end pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, eliminate provisional voting if someone shows up in the wrong district, shorten some poll hours, and allow more challenges to voters, remain in the bill. The section on early voting has been modified so that it now requires an increase in the number of voting sites and hours, but still shortens the early voting period to a single week.

While we still have concerns about the impact of these changes on people with disabilities, who already encounter barriers to voting, the change of section 34 into a study is an advocacy victory. Thank to you everyone who contacted their Senate and House members, as well as to the Arc of NC and Disability Rights North Carolina for their legislative advocacy.

The full NC Senate will take a final vote on the legislation, including the possibility of additional amendments, on Thursday. The bill will them pass back over to the NC House for “concurrence,” a vote in support of the bill and any changes. We continue to monitor the bill and any changes, including the House’s decision to agree with the changes or not (If not, it would send the bill to a conference committee, potentially delaying its passage until next year.)

ACTION:

Please thank Senator Apodaca for responding to your concerns about individuals who receive guardianship support and require assistance in and out of the voting booth by introducing the amendment and thank your own NC General Assembly Senator for unanimously supporting it. If you have not already, let House and Senate members know you support maintaining every opportunity for people to participate in the voting process.

You can find out who represents you on the General Assembly webpage. Use the first and second maps for NC House and NC Senate, the last map is for Congress which you can ignore for purposes of this bill.

If you have questions about these or other public policy issues, please contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at 919-865-5068,  jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org or post your questions below.

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