IgniteNC: The mask is off of this ‘voter information’ group

Last fall, Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reported on a newly formed student-led group calling itself NC Vote Defenders, or IgniteNC. While the organizers of the group had participated in Moral Monday protests, spokesman Scott Davis told Smith “the group hopes to serve as an advocate for anyone facing voter suppression, but otherwise plans to offer straightforward information to voters.”

“They see in the news that [lawmakers] passed this big voting bill and some people are confused that they may need an ID this year, or maybe their sons or daughters are students and can’t vote because their student ID won’t work,” Davis said. “We’re just trying to make sure that everyone knows that those laws haven’t gone into effect yet so they can still go out and vote like they used to.”

At the time, volunteers were passing out pamphlets at early voting sites featuring neutral information about how to register, when you would need to present a photo ID to vote, and the like.

However, any notion that the group is not taking sides in this election cycle was dispelled by a press release issued today by the group.

The release opens with a link to a story from the left-wing publication The Nation calling the election reforms passed in 2013 by the General Assembly “the worst voter suppression laws in the country.”

Other analysts and researchers beg to differ.

It then mischaracterized one aspect of the reforms, saying the new law enacted “a reduction in the time period for early voting.”

Not exactly. While the law reduces the number of days early voting is allowed, it also states that early voting sites shall remain open the same number of hours over the current 10-day period that were in place during the previous 17-day period. From Section 25.1(g):

Any plan adopted by either the county board of elections or the State Board of Elections under this subsection shall provide for the same days of operation and same number of hours of operation on each day for all sites in that county for that election. The requirement of the previous sentence does not apply to the county board of elections office itself nor, if one-stop voting is not conducted at the county board of elections office, to the reasonably proximate alternate site approved under this subsection.

In other words, only counties can reduce the number of hours available for early voting. The General Assembly did nothing of the sort.

But then the mask really comes off later in the release:

the upcoming highly contested Federal Senate race has seen over $10 million enter the state, the majority of which has come from Koch brothers, Art Pope, and Karl Rove affiliated organizations.

“North Carolina has become a laboratory for the Koch brothers and Art Pope. They pour money into vulnerable contested seats to buy influence, and then they pass laws that both benefit their financial interests.” Said Bryan Perlmutter, Director of Ignite NC and founder of the NC Vote Defender Project. “In addition, they are attempting to shrink the electorate to have greater influence on future elections with new voting laws.”

Neither Ignite NC, NC Vote Defenders, nor the NC Vote Defender Project has filed as a separate entity with the Secretary of State’s Office. In the release, the group says it has worked with the left-leaning group Democracy NC.

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