Read our investigative report looking at the high rate of suicides in NC jails

September 2016 eNews

2016 Election - Important Dates

November 8: Election Day!

October 14: Voter registration must be mailed or postmarked by this date.

October 20 - November 5: "One-Stop" Same-Day registration and early voting period.

November 1: Board of Elections must receive request for absentee ballots by 5:00 pm.

November 8: Absentee ballot must be received or postmarked by this date.

New website launched to help voters with disabilities

The first step to exercising your rights is knowing your rights. That is why Disability Rights NC has launched a voter information website—www.accessthevotenc.org. This disability-focused and accessible website will walk you through every step from registering to vote to casting your vote in person, from home, or from a facility.

Not sure if you can vote? The website has an easy to follow checklist. Want to stay up-to-date on voting changes? Sign up to receive Election Alerts from us by email. Need to report a violation of your voting rights? Do that directly from the website.

This year, vote as if your life depends on it, because it does!

Update on NC voting law

This year, more than many other years, all eyes are on the election process and who will show up to vote. In our country’s last presidential election in 2012, 15.6 million people with disabilities voted nationwide. However, the voting rate of people with disabilities was about 5.7% lower than that of voters without disabilities. If people with disabilities had voted at the same rate as people without disabilities, there would have been approximately 3 million more voters with disabilities participating in the election.

The difference in voting rates may be explained by the fact that voters with disabilities experience more difficulty accessing the polling sites and absentee voting process than voters without disabilities (30.1% of voters with disabilities reported difficulties in 2012, compared to 8.4% of voters without disabilities). Further, almost one-third of voters with disabilities require assistance with voting. Lastly, voters with disabilities tend to vote at home (e.g., absentee) at a higher rate than voters without disabilities.

Recent Changes in the Law

On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down challenged provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 voting law, resulting in five important changes:

  1. Photo ID. In general, you do not have to show any photo identification to vote. (However, there are some limited circumstances in which those registering or voting for the first time may have to show some form of identification.)
  2. Same-Day Registration. If you miss the October 14 deadline for registering to vote, you can register to vote and vote at the same time during the early voting period.
  3. Out-of-Precinct Voting. If you show up to vote at the wrong precinct on Election Day, you can still vote, as long as you are in the right county.
  4. Early Voting. The early voting period has been restored to 17 days, to begin on October 20, 2016.
  5. Pre-registration. 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote, even if they will not be 18 years old on Election Day.

In North Carolina,  individuals can vote by: (1) voting at your polling place on Election Day (inside or curbside); (2) early voting in your county, or (3) voting absentee by mail.

Voting at the Polls

Some voters need assistance when they go to the polls. If you need assistance with voting because of your disability, you can have any person of your choice assist you when you go to vote. The only exception is that your employer or someone associated with your employer cannot assist you. Additionally, if the polling place is difficult to enter or reach due to age or disability, you can vote curbside, which allows you to vote from inside a vehicle. Curbside voting will be available at every polling place during the Early Voting period as well as on Election Day.

Absentee Voting by Mail

Anyone, whether or not he or she has a disability, can vote absentee by mail from their home or residence. To vote by mail, there are a few steps:

  1. Mail in an absentee ballot request form to your county board of elections office by November 1. These request forms need to be received by 5:00pm on November 1. Absentee ballots will begin to be available on Friday, September 9, 2016.
  2. Fill out your absentee ballot in the presence of two witnesses or one notary public.
  3. Return your ballot. Your absentee ballot must be returned in person or mailed (postmarked) to your county board of elections office by 5:00pm on November 8, 2016 (Election Day).

If you live in a facility, such as a nursing home or hospital, there are restrictions on who can serve as your witness. People who work at the facility cannot serve as your witnesses. You can arrange to have a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT) come to your facility to assist you with casting your ballot and/or serve as witnesses. To learn more information about MATs coming to your facility, call your county board of elections office for more information. You can find the phone number and address of your county board of elections office online at  - http://enr.ncsbe.gov/cbesearch/.

Most importantly, if you have any issues with voting--during the Early Voting period or on  Election Day--you can cast a provisional ballot. Report any difficulties you encounter to the State Board of Elections office (866-522-4723), to your county board of elections office, to Election Protection (866-687-8683), or to Disability Rights NC (877-235-4210). For more information, visit our newly-launched voting website - www.accessthevotenc.org .

"I Have a Disability, and I Vote!" -- tell us why you vote

To encourage voters with disabilities to vote in November, Disability Rights NC is launching the "I Have a Disability, and I Vote!" campaign. Throughout September and October, we encourage people with disabilities to submit their photo, along with their name and one or two sentences about why voting matters to them. We will publish entries on our Facebook page from now until election day. Send your submission to voting@disabilityrightsnc.org  or post on Facebook or Twitter using #accessthevotenc.

In memory of Dr. Charles Walker

It is with sadness that we report the death of Dr. Charles Walker, a member of our Board of Directors and a 2011 recipient of the Champions for Equality and Justice Award.

Charles established himself as a role model for overcoming the challenges of blindness by first obtaining his GED and continuing his education through a doctorate program at NC State University. As a graduate student, he conducted a national study investigating the attitudes of counselors in graduate programs towards people with blindness. As an adjunct professor of counselor education, Charles included disability awareness components in his course curriculum.

Charles served on the Raleigh Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities and the Board of Directors for the Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind. He served on the Board of Directors for Disability Rights North Carolina for five years and was the Board Treasurer for the last two years.

Accepting applications for new Board members

We have two vacancies on the Board of Directors of Disability Rights NC. If you are interested, please review http://www.disabilityrightsnc.org/volunteer-board-directors to see the requirements. You will need to submit an application.

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