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The Daily Tar Heel

Elevate: Minority voices are crucial as early voting begins

misha and brittany.jpg

Brittany McGee (left) and Ramishah Maruf (right) are diversity officers at The Daily Tar Heel. 

Early voting has begun, and North Carolinians are able to make their voices heard in the 2020 election. 

The impact our Black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous communities will have on this election, and the future of our state and country, cannot be overstated. We are a powerful bloc — our voices matter, our issues matter and our votes matter. It’s important to note that isn’t a monolith, and we should not be treated as such, especially by political institutions. 

Unfortunately, there have been and continue to be hindrances to voting in this state. Just one example: A news analysis from ProPublica and WRAL found that a disproportionate amount of rejected ballots were from Black voters. There are also reports of long voting lines, just on the first day. 

Early voting will run through Oct. 31. Voters can visit Orange County’s website to find information on times and locations. All locations offer same-day registration, and if voters would like to choose this option, they must bring a government ID — it doesn’t have to be a photo ID — and must vote early rather than on Election Day.

Voting is not only about choosing the next senator. It is also a chance to let policymakers know how the electorate feels about key issues. In 2016, the controversial constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo IDs was on the ballot and passed 55 percent to 45 percent. 

However, federal and state courts have temporarily blocked the photo ID law from taking effect. U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs wrote in her injunction that the lack of any photo ID requirement for absentee voting, which was disproportionately used by white voters, and the fact that the public assistance ID was not included as an acceptable form of ID showed discriminatory intent.

Last month, the NAACP announced it would continue to fight to get this amendment invalidated, taking the case to the N.C. Supreme Court. However, the best way to prevent laws like these from taking effect is to be educated about what is on the ballot and to vote.

The Daily Tar Heel has published a state and local voting guide, which details the candidates for the 2020 Orange County ballot, and provides an overview on the key issues for each race. We want to help ensure that voters are educated about the importance of every race, and knowledgeable about the candidates they will be voting for.