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[NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE NORTH CAROLINA STATE CONFERENCE 1001 Wade Ave, Suite 1S «Mailbox?» Raleigh NC27605 16: 919-682-4700» fa 919-682-4711 Infogiaancpecorg + wirnanaacposorg Rex eT Anthony Speman De Forest Toms Sle Presiden, Inrim Exes Distr Ociober 1, 2018 Via Electronic Mail ‘The Hon, Phil Berger President Pro Tempore North Carolina Senate ‘The Hon. Tim Moore House Speaker [North Carolina House of Representatives ‘Re: Emergency Action Needed to Ensure North Caroliniaas in Hurricane-Impacted Counties Can Access the Ballot Dear President Pro'Tem Berger and Speaker Moore and Members of the General Assembly: The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP writes today 10 the leaders and ‘membership ofthe General Assembly, to the Governor and to the State Board of Elections out of ‘reat concer for the countless North Carolinians and thie families suffering in the wake of Hurricane Florence, “The skies have cleared after days of relentless wind and rain only to revel the terrible damage wrought by this historic storm. Lives have been lst. Houses, roads, and bridges remain under water, and electricity, mail delivery, and other imporant infrasrueture systems have been non-operationsl or severely impaired. Many North Carofnians face temporary and long-term relocation, and with it the hardships of displacement, not the least of which include lst wages. and missed schoo! days. The threat of additional flooding has ot completely abated in many communities. Its clear thatthe road to recovery willbe lng, and that i will stretch across the ‘coming weeks and months. We thus write this eter with wo purposes. 5 1, we seck release of huricane reli resources to the fullest extent possible and ‘Immediate emergency action. The NC NAACP, during two days of travel ona Presidential mission ‘through the hursicane-impacted counties, and by way of ou branches and membership across the state working daily to serve thse who ae sill seeking basicsecurty and survival neds, as borne ‘witness othe devasation left behind by this storm, and we pay thatthe special session tomorrow wil focts first. foremost, and solely on the needs of the most vulnerable and ensuring equitable sdestribuion of resources. Our representatives will tend the session, and call on you to commit ‘ourselves asa sate to ensuring that recovery efforts, including those effort taken wih federal ‘suppor, are not hampered by racial and economic injustice or anyother distracting motivations ‘Weave a moral duty to each other and tothe most vulnerable, that we must rise to meet. Second, we write call or specific, immediate action in support of access tothe ballet to ensure tat dsenfranchisement will not be among the many hardships that North Carolinians will ‘have to face inthe afermath of Hurricane Florence. We Know From past experiences inthis sate and others that, without sf intervention by ‘he sae natural disasters ean disrupt znd deny voting pporwnites. This wil particularly be the ‘ise forthose counties inthe easter and soastal regis of Nowth Carolina that were most severely hithy Hrriane Florence. These counties are alsa home toa disproportionate numberof Arica “American voters and to some othe highest numbers af Noth Carolinians living below the poverty tine, They include: Benutort Woke Bladen Hyde Brunswick ohaston Carteret Sones Richmon Columbus Lee Robeson Craven Lenoir Sampson Cumbeetan Montgomery Scotland Duplin Moore Wayne Greene New Hanover Wikon Harnett Onslow iven the unprecedented scale ofthe devastation and destruction let behind by Hurricane Florence, and the fact that we are just afew short wecks tom the start ofthe 2018 Early Voting Period. he NC NAACP has made the Following requests 0 the Nodth Carona State Board of lectins and Eis Enforcement to take immediate action to ensure tha those suffering from his stinasterare nol denied access othe polls ~ and we tend the sae request o this body to doll init poner to ensure thatthe right 1 the ballots nt denied ‘Thus,on behalf ofthe NC NAACP branches and members in these most severely impacted ‘counties and on bel fall votersin thse counties, the NC NAACP urges the General Assembly fo use 324 powers to Support the Sate Board of Elections to continue is effas to Identify the ‘needs of voters impacted by this ratural disaster across the state, and take the following ations 1 Extend the voter registration deadline by atleast three business days inthe above-listed ‘ourties and direct those county boards of election t ‘Soter registrations that are postmarked by iv, October 17,201 {As the experience of Hurricane Matthew's impact on the 2016 election makes clea, same-day fegistration during the earlyvoting period may not be accessible to. voters who Tema isplaced by ce storm inthe coming weeks and are unable to present proof af residence during arly voting hours in ther home counties, Extending the vote egistaton dealing will ensue that these votew have an addtional wechend opportunity to register. As the Wake County ‘Superioe Cour held inthe wake of Hurricane Matthew, ay administrative Durden to the tte in extending the deadline for tree additional days is outweighed by the significant night of the constitution io ensure tha every voter that ants to vole snot precluded Irom doing so 3s ‘result of natural disaster” N.C. Democroie Pars. Starch, 1 CVS 12821 (Wake Cis Super. Ct. Oct 16,2016). Ensure that voters displaced by the storm are able to cast absentee ballots, For many votes displaced by Hurricane Florence, absence ballots may be the only viable method for accessing the ballot in this important upcoming eletion. The State Board of Elections should ensure that those votes are able to cast absentee ballots, including by doing, {he Fllssings (a) Make absentee ballots accesible to displaced voters. Current, inorder to vote by absentee bale. the voter or a nea relative” must request an absentee ballot in person or by mail fn, or email to their county board of elections by 5:00, pm. on October 30,2018. This may pose an insurmountable barrier fr many huricane- linpacted voters whose entice families eemain displaced. The State Board af Elections should thus 1. Allow huricane-impacted county voters to use the same or simile Federal Posteard “Application available to miltary-overseas voters, which would allow these voters toelectto receive and return the absentee ballot by mail fax or email, The State Board should likewise extend the deadline for absentee ballot requests so that it isthe same as for military-overseas voters ~ 5:00 pam. the day prior to election day, Finally, for those voters who elect to receive and return ther absentee ballots by m ‘the State Board of Elections should lift from those voters the burden ofthe expense of postage for returning their allot by providing prepaid seaddressed envelopes along With the absentee ballot materials, 2. Allow local churches and community organizations to assis hureicane-impacted ‘voters in obtaining, preparing, and submitting absentee ballots. The Site Board Of Elections should also make efforts to educate voters about the availabilty of absent halos by creating an on-air and news media advertising. (b) Extend the deadline for returning absentee ballots for voters in impacted counties. (Currently, civilian absentee ballots must be received by the relevant county board of clections by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. In order to ensure that these hurricane impacted voters ae able fo cast ther ballot, the State Board of Elections should extend the deadline for receipt of civilian absentee ballots from the above-listed counties so that itis the same a for military-overseas voters. Specifically, civilian absentee ballots from hurecane-impacted counties should be counted so long as they ate received bythe county boards of election by the clase of polls on Election Day, unless the voter transmitted ‘the ballot by 12:01 a.m. on the day of the election (voter time) and the county board ‘of eletions receives the ballot by the ast business day before the county canvass