NC student political leaders led a protest Tuesday against recent decisions by local boards of elections on the legality of student voting on college campuses. The event was held in front of the State Board of Elections (SBE) offices in downtown Raleigh.
The protest was kicked off by Irene Caldwell, a field organizer with NCPIRG who called on the SBE to "reverse actions by local board of elections." Several local election boards, including those in Pasquotank and Watauga counties, have come under heavy criticism for making it difficult for college students to cast their votes where they attend classes. In Pasquotank County, Elizabeth City State University student Montravias King was deemed ineligible to run for the Elizabeth City board, though the requirements for running in local elections in the county are the same for voting there. Additionally, the board of elections in Watauga County voted to close early voting and polling locations at Appalachian State University, drastically limiting ease of voting for ASU students. Both King's case and the Watauga County case were scheduled to be heard by the State Board of Elections on the same day as the protests.
Bryan Perlmutter, a student at NC State University, called recent voter legislative efforts signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory "racist and ageist" and claimed that the laws are "leaving youth and young people behind." He also added that efforts are being made to train voter and precinct defenders in anticipation of pushback from groups attempting to suppress the youth vote in upcoming elections.
Carrboro mayor Mark Chilton challenged the members of the SBE to uphold their oaths of office. "We ought to be encouraging the youth to challenge what we and our predecessors got wrong," said Chilton in support of the protests.
Representatives from the NAACP, including N.C. chapter president Rev. Dr. William Barber and leaders of the youth and college divisions of the organizations were also present. William Barber III, announced additional measures the NAACP will be leading in protest of the recent voter suppression efforts. The NAACP will host a college tour of all NC campuses with a NAACP chapter, lead a march to the governor's office on September 16 to demonstrate against "regressive legislation." Rev. Dr. Barber also said that the NAACP is looking into all possible legal actions to reinstate student voting practices in NC, including contacting US Attorney General Eric Holder.
To read more about NC voting legislation and the current voting debate:
UPDATE: The State Board of Elections unanimously voted on Tuesday that Montravias King was eligible to run for local office. Read more.