New nonpartisan voter outreach coalition offers education & assistance

ASHEVILLE, NC (January 16, 2024) — With primary elections just weeks away, a coalition of nonprofit, nonpartisan groups offers voters valuable information about new voting laws that could affect their ability to have their voices heard at the polls.

“It’s easy to be confused about what’s required and what’s not,” says Robin Lively Summers, board president of Indivisible Asheville/WNC, one of the lead organizations in the coalition. “It’s especially difficult to learn your way around this new landscape if you haven’t voted recently. And some people could be removed from the rolls without even knowing it. We plan to show people how to overcome those barriers.”

The group kicks off the election season with its first nonpartisan canvassing event, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., January 27, at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 1 School Road, Asheville.

The nonpartisan WNC Voter Outreach Coalition includes Indivisible Asheville/WNC, the Western Circle of the NC Poor People’s Campaign, the YWCA of Asheville, Just Economics of Western North Carolina, Asheville Food & Beverage United (AFBU), and numerous individuals.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, states have started passing laws to limit access to the polls, including cutting early voting locations and hours and establishing ID laws but limiting acceptable forms of identification.

Here in North Carolina, the General Assembly has made it more difficult for people to obtain and use absentee ballots, requiring a copy of the voter’s photo ID and notarization. The grace period for getting absentee ballots submitted also has been eliminated. In addition, North Carolina now has the most gerrymandered voting districts in the nation.

“We understand a lot of voters – especially poor and low-wealth voters – feel as though no one hears them and that their voices don’t count,” says Evan Richardson, co-chair of the Western Circle of the NC Poor People’s Campaign. “We’re here to show them that their votes can and will count – if they register and go to the polls.”

North Carolina is one of 15 states on which the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is focusing as a priority to get out the vote.

In the 2020 election 58 million low-income people voted nationally, accounting for 33% of the electorate and 45% in battleground states, according to the study,  “Waking the Sleeping Giant: Low-Income Voters and the 2020 Elections” released by the campaign.

But more than 80 million were eligible to cast a ballot, meaning more than 20 million low-income people left their votes on the table.

“We’re hoping to get those people to the polls this year,” Richardson says.

The new coalition will continue canvassing throughout the election season. No experience is needed to participate, and all interested volunteers are welcome.

To register for the first canvassing event or for information on future events, visit https://bit.ly/canvass-jan27.

# # #