Allow me to first of all salute the students at N.C. A&T in Greensboro for their courageous act to form a more perfect union and establish justice within their community.
Those students deserve an early voting site on campus and a method of voting that restores trust and confidence in our election process. Students have the right to vote and shouldn’t need to get more than 2,000 signatures on a petition or miss classes on several occasions to come before the Guilford County Board of Elections to beg for the right to vote, but they did.
They came to elaborate on all the reasons why they deserve an early voting site on the A&T campus at the Dudley Building and at Barber Park. First, next year’s primary election will take place during the students’ spring break, a time when students are not even allowed to be on campus. Voting early is the only way that most students would be able to exercise their right and getting to an off-campus site is impossible for some.
Not all students have transportation and time to take off from class or work to get there. Forcing students to travel off campus would be an additional impediment to the already overwhelming number of methods of voter suppression they are facing. The campus is gerrymandered down the middle, with one side in Congressional District 6 and the other in Congressional District 13, which dilutes the voting power of the citizens and additionally causes confusion about which voting site to go to on Election Day. Strict voter-identification requirements disproportionately target minority voters.
While the national trend is to move voting sites outside of K-12 schools for safety concerns, moving voting off college campuses serves only to suppress the college vote. Unlike K-12 public schools, college campuses are always open to the public to visit, so extra safety measures would not be needed. This is true for colleges where students reside and for community colleges where students live off campus.
The county elections board voted 3-2 along party lines to put early voting sites at N.C. A&T and Barber Park. Since it was not passed unanimously, Because the decision was not unanimously the State Board of Elections will make the final decision once the county elections board members who voted against the plan propose an alternative.
Fortunately, the Guilford County elections board took a step in the right direction when it chose to use a hand-marked paper ballot system. This is the most secure way of voting and provides the best record of voter intent. Cybersecurity experts recommend against using machine-marked ballots because of the potential for hacking and computer malfunctions. Any system that does not use hand-marked paper ballots would not yield a meaningful post-election tabulation audit because a ballot marked by a machine cannot assess a voter’s intent.
Also, the use of machine-marked ballots can be used to suppress voters if counties do not provide enough machines to keep lines moving. Long lines do discourage voting.
Some people may never be able to see the entanglement of the tentacles of voter suppression but those who are daily affected by them surely can. I would appeal to those who desire to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity to employ some empathy and open your eyes.