Early Voting is here; Black voting explodes
By Cash Michaels
From today through Saturday, October 31st, early voting in North Carolina will be the rule, especially for African Americans, who, statistics show, come out in large numbers during this period.
On Monday, Georgia broke its own first day of early voting numbers, as video showed long lines of African Americans at the polls in what many consider to be a strong conservative state.
Even for those who missed last week’s registration deadline here in North Carolina, first time voters age 18 and older can still same-day register and then vote, just by bringing something that confirms their legal address.
Indeed, as past elections have shown, the voting group that leads white males, white females, Black males and all others either Democrat or Republican, are Black female Democrats when it comes to early voting turnout.
Black churches and civic organizations know the stats, and traditionally have geared their major GOTV (get out the vote) efforts for this early voting period.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still ever-present, forcing many older African American voters to try mail-in absentee balloting for the first time, it remains to be seen whether Black voters will rise standing in long lines between now and the November 3rd Election.
Several community and grassroots groups like the local chapters of the NCNAACP, are actively pushing to increase Black voter turnout compared to the 2016 depressed numbers. The national civil rights organization is also running digital and radio ads in ten states across the country, including North Carolina, to deliver maximum Black voter turnout at least five percent higher than four years ago.
Most of North Carolina’s HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) remain open during the pandemic, and students who have been actively registering to vote since before the coronavirus hit, are now mobilizing through their campus organizations to early vote at nearby voting precincts.
October 17th has been designated as the Power to the Polls March and Vote for many HBCUS across the state.
On Sunday, October 18th, while many Black churches remain closed due to the pandemic, some churches, like St. Joseph’s A.M.E Church in Durham, will lead a “Souls to the Polls” caravan to a nearby polling station. In effect, congregants either drive or are driven to the polls to cast their ballots, as opposed to traditionally boarding a church van to make the trip.
Across the country, many Black churches are phone banking and delivering absentee ballots to the homes of Black elderly congregants for them to fill out and have witnessed. Because of varying laws in several states, in some cases, those ballots can be collected and delivered back to the county elections office.
In North Carolina, after the absentee ballot has been signed by the voter and witness (along with the witness address) only a relative of the voter can deliver the absentee ballot back to the county elections office.
You still have time to mail in your absentee ballot if you have one. Just make sure you sign your name and, have one witness sign his or her name and address before sending it back, or having it dropped off. You have until October 27th but, are urged to send it back as soon as possible.