Voting Rights: Our work on this issue played out last month with the CALL TO ACTION to prepare us to Vote in the upcoming Primary. If you need a reminder of Linda Stover’s info-packed ACTION email, find it front-and-center on the AAUW Asheville website – thanks to Molly Keeney. We welcomed Ron Katz at the March 22 Branch Meeting who coached us for the election season, offering a look back at the tumultuous time of redistricting that was settled in early March. With war raging over freedom in Ukraine, surely now we are compelled like never before to use our right to vote, with gratitude for our very democracy.
Early Childhood Education (Buncombe County): We offer an update on this strategic priority that our County Board of Commissioners created in 2018. They pledged $3.6 million in FY 2020 to assist child care/education centers, and committed to an increase of 2% per year going forward. For FY 2023, grants will total over $3.8 million for teacher training and compensation, equity and inclusion measures, new building construction, and other priorities that expand slots for more children in 0 to 5 early education. Dogwood Trust has stepped up with important funding across WNC, too. Much more must also be done at the state to level the playing field across NC.
ERA: To our dismay, there is little progress to report, as the wheels of the federal government work through a process that we fervently hope will result in the fully ratified proposed amendment being included in The Constitution. Watch this space!
NC State Legislation Voting Rights Updates
The NC General Assembly is working on redistricting which will include an additional congressional district. The process could be completed by the end of October. If you would like more information on the redistricting process, listen to Blue Ridge Radio’s Matt Buss’ 8 minutes interview with Western Carolina University Dr. Chris Cooper HERE https://www.bpr.org/post/wnc-politics-roundup-dont-overreact-maps-you-see-now?fbclid=IwAR2_tm2-kph61go7X0dNW-99SLv7_t46j7Duv8I0Oe7qKHjpQRJ1k49x6LQ#stream/1 The Princeton Gerrymandering Project rates preliminary redistricting maps by state; to view ratings on NC preliminary maps, go HERE https://gerrymander.princeton.edu/redistricting-report-card/ and click on NC. Contact your representatives and let them know you want fair and nonpartisan redistricting.
Voter ID Law S.B. 824
The Wake County Superior Court struck down S.B. 824 finding that the law was passed with the partial intent to discriminate against African American voters. The court held that S.B. 824, which provides a narrow list of qualifying photo IDs acceptable for voting, violates the NC Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. It is expected that House Speaker Moore will appeal the ruling.
HB 805, Anti-Protestor Legislation Vetoed
HB 805 which would have imposed harsh penalties for protestors calling for racial justice and for people engaged in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, and put them at risk of being detained for an extended period of time or imprisoned for property damage they did not cause. In vetoing the bill,
Governor Cooper stated: “People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest.”
Find your local Legislators https://www.nc.gov/services/find-your-legislators and let them know how they are representing your interests.
Federal Voting Rights Legislation Updates
The Freedom To Vote Act S. 2747
This alternative voting rights bill introduced by Senator Manchin and others to replace For The People Act S. 1, is under consideration in the Senate. Major tenants of this legislation are:
Automatic voter registration At least 15 days of early in-person voting
No-excuse mail voting Make Election Day a public holiday
Mandate nonpartisan redistricting Uniform & expanded standards for voter ID options
Count provisional ballots cast in a county regardless of the specific county precinct
Provide a statutory right to vote prohibiting states from enacting laws restricting voting
On Wednesday, October 20, S. 2747 came before the Senate in a Cloture Vote to proceed with debate on the proposed bill. It takes 60 votes to proceed to debate. Strictly along party lines, the Cloture Vote was rejected. As the recent AAUW Asheville Branch “Call To Action” stated, a filibuster carve-out for voting rights legislation is necessary to pass Federal voting rights legislation. We urge you to review the “Call To Action” emailed to you on August 30, sent by Lynette Miller with subject line “AAUW Asheville Branch CALL TO ACTION – Time is of the Essence” and make the suggested contacts.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, S. 4
This proposed legislation would restore and strengthen parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, certain portions of which were struck down by two United States Supreme Court decisions of Shelby County v. Holder and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee. This legislation has passed the U. S. House and referred to the Senate for a vote.
Tell your U. S. Senators how you feel about their lack of support for voting rights legislation:
Senator Richard Burr (202) 224-3154 https://www.burr.senate.gov/
Senator Thom Tillis (202) 224-6342 https:/www.tillis.senate.gov
Thank you for advocating for our voting rights – Linda Stover