REV. DR. T. ANTHONY SPEARMAN, PRESIDENT OF THE NCNAACP, LEADS PRESS CONFERENCE MONDAY OUTSIDE OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE, DEMANDING THAT LAWMAKERS HEKP VICTIMS OF HURRICANE FLORENCE HAVE EASIER ACCESS TO VOTING (CASH MICHAELS PHOTO)
NCNAACP CALLS FOR “EMERGENCY ACTION”
TO HELP HURRICANE VICTIMS TO VOTE
By Cash Michaels
In an October 1stletter to Gov. Roy Cooper, Republican legislative leaders in the state House and Senate, and the chairman, executive director , and members of the NC State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, NCNAACP President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, citing a “Great concern…” for the victims of Hurricane Florence, urged the governor and state lawmakers to “release … hurricane relief resources to the fullest extent possible and immediate action.”
“…[W]e pray that the [legislative] special session (which started Oct. 2nd) will focus first, foremost, and solely on the needs of the most vulnerable and ensuring equitable distribution of resources," Spearman wrote.
The NCNAACP president noted that the 29 eastern and coastal counties most affected by flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Florence, are “…also home to a disproportionate number of African-American voters, and some of the highest numbers of North Carolinians living below the poverty line.”
Thus, Spearman specifically asked officials with the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, with the beginning of the Early Voting period on Oct. 17ththrough Nov. 3rd, to “extend the voter registration deadline by at least three business days (in the affected counties) and direct those county boards of election to accept voter registrations that are postmarked by Wednesday, October 17th, 2018.”
Dr. Spearman also asked that voters displaced by the storm be able to cast absentee ballots by making those mail-in ballots accessible, allowing local churches and community organizations to assist hurricane victims in obtaining, preparing and submitting the ballots.
He suggests that hurricane victims be allowed to use “…the same or similar federal postcard application available to military-overseas voters,” also extending the deadline for absentee ballot requests to mirror those of military-overseas voters.
Attorney Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP’s Legal Redress Committee, and Catlin Swain, co-director of Forward Justice, a nonprofit legal advocacy group based in Durham, said a a Monday press conference outside of the legislature that legally, those impacted by the hurricane have the right to vote, and the state must do all it can to ensure that right is not obstructed by obstacles presented by the storm.
Dr. Spearman, prior to introducing several victims of, not only Hurricane Florence, but some who were still recovering from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, expressed doubt that the Republican-led NC General Assembly would do anything to address their concerns.
Apparently in answer, GOP leader Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) tweeted that he would support extending voter registration in those impacted counties until Oct. 15th, adding that he’s already garnered support from both sides of the aisle.
“No need for name-calling on this issue,” Rep. Lewis tweeted. “We’re all working to help hurricane-impacted families and voters.”
STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 10-04-18
DEATH TOLL FROM HURRICANE FLORENCE NOW 39 IN STATE
[RALEIGH] According to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office, the death toll from Hurricane Florence, which hit southeastern and coastal North Carolina Sept. 14thwith strong winds and extensive flooding, has now risen to 39. The two latest fatalities were a result of storm cleanup in the aftermath, state official say. A 47-year-old man was found dead outside of his Duplin County home of a head injury after falling from a ladder trying to repair his house from storm damage. And a 69-year-old man in Pender County fell from his roof trying to cleat storm debris.
DATE SET FOR REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION IN CHARLOTTE
[CHARLOTTE] With the expectation of re-nominating, and ultimately re-electing President Donald Trump, the 2020 Republican National Convention will be held in the Queen City August 24-27, 2020. Organizers are tasked with raising approximately $70 million to cover costs, and coordinate security at the Spectrum Center and surrounding area. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat, says the convention will be great for the city, but many councilmembers disagree. Lyles won a slim vote on the council several months ago to accept the convention, but there is a lot of opposition to it because of the expected controversy that Pres. Trump is expected to bring.
STATE LAWMAKERS PASS $56.5 MILLION IN FIRST PHASE OF HURRICANE RECOVERY
[RALEIGH] The votes were unanimous at the NC General Assembly Tuesday pass legislation appropriating $56.5 million in initial Hurricane Florence recovery funding to assist at least 29 counties impacted by last month’s deadly storm. In addition, state lawmakers signed off on granting waivers for school systems in affected counties that can’t meet their required 185-day school calendar because of extensive damage to their schools. Teachers and other school personnel will be still be paid, even though they can’t work in those impacted systems. The voter registration deadline has been extended from Oct. 12 to Oct. 15th. Local county election boards will also be able to relocate voting sites if they have been damaged because of the storm. Legislators then adjourned, planning to reconvene on Oct. 15thto consider more long-term hurricane recovery measures.