Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Welcome to The Arc of North Carolina Election 2008 Blog

Welcome all! This blog will be dedicated to all things related to Election 2008. It will give you information on how to register to vote, how to find out where to vote, Primary Updates, and tips on how to get involved in your local party races.

On the right hand side of the blog you will find information regarding important dates for the North Carolina Primary. You will also find links for the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian Party.
North Carolina's Primary is a big one this year. Both Democratic Party Candidates for President will be in North Carolina over the next few weeks. We will try our best to let you know where they will be. We will also let you know about presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain's visits to North Carolina. We encourage you to attend these events. If there is time for public questions, ask one. This is an important election for people with developmental disabilities. Ask the candidates where they stand on our issues.
Our state politics are just as exciting. We have big races for Governor, Lt. Governor and U.S. Senator, not to mention the State House and local elections. We encourage you to get involved in your local political process. We will show you how to do it.
Most important, you have to register to vote and vote!!! Encourage your neighbors to vote. Organize rides to the poll. This year North Carolina will have Same Day Registration and Voter Sites. These sites open on April 17th and close May 3.
Information on Same Day Registration and Voter Sites is located on the right hand side of this blog under Primary Schedule.
Have questions about how to get involved? Email me at jleggett@arcnc.org.
The time is now to get involved!

Last Day to Register to Vote in The Primary-April 11

Friday, April 11 is the last day to register to vote in the North Carolina Primary Election. You can register to vote at the following sites in your area:
  • Agencies
    Work First
    Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
    Food Stamps
    Services for the Blind
    Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services
    Vocational Rehabilitation
    North Carolina Protection and Advocacy Agency
    Employment Security Commission
  • DMV Offices
  • Mail
    North Carolina has made available mail-in voter registration forms through the county boards of elections offices.
  • Other options - Libraries and public high school
    North Carolina has mail-in voter registration forms available through public libraries and high schools. These locations do not accept the forms for the county board of elections office. Forms may be obtained at these locations, completed, and mailed to the appropriate county board of elections office.
  • Qualifications to register to vote in North Carolina
    To register to vote in this State, a person must sign a voter declaration attesting that:
    I am a U.S. citizen.
    I will have been a resident of North Carolina and this county for 30 days before the election.
    I will be at least 18 years old by the next general election.
    I am not registered nor will I vote in any other county or state.
    If I have been convicted of a felony, my rights of citizenship have been restored.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Power of the Disability Vote!!

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.