ELECTION 2020: Black early voting ready to break recordsBy Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / October 15, 2020
Socially Distanced March/ Car Caravan to the Polls
Thursday, October 15th, 11:30 a.m. from New Light Missionary Baptist Church, 1105 Willow Road to Barber Park, 500 Barber Park Dr. (off E. Florida Street).
After early voting, all attendees are encouraged to return to New Light Baptist for free drive-thru COVID-19 testing from to 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free fresh foods will also be given away via the drive-thru at 2:30 p.m.
From today, Thursday, Oct. 15th, 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, Oct. 12, the state of Georgia broke its own first day early voting record with 126,876 voters casting ballots, 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 or voters new to the county age 18 and older can still same-day register and then vote during the early voting period. Last day to early vote is Saturday, Oct. 31. Voters can also register and vote on election day, Nov. 3, however according to the Guilford Board of Elections, the process to register on election day may take longer.
The voter must prove their residence by showing any of the following documents with their current name and address:
- North Carolina driver’s license.
- Other photo identification issued by a government agency. Any government-issued photo ID is acceptable, provided that the card includes the voter’s current name and address.
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the voter’s name and address.
- A current college/university photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation.
Indeed, as past elections have shown, the voting group that leads White males, White females, Black males and all others either Democrat or Republican in early voting turnout are Black female Democrats.
Black churches and civic organizations know the statistics, 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 risk standing in long lines between now and the Nov. 3rd General Election.
Several community and grassroots groups like the local chapters of the N.C. NAACP, 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.
On Thursday, October 15th, members of the Greensboro community will lead an 11:30 am socially distanced march/ car caravan to the polls from New Light Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1105 Willow Road to Barber Park located at 1500 Barber Park Dr. (off E. Florida Street).
All attendees are encouraged to return to New Light Baptist for free drive-thru COVID-19 testing from to 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free fresh foods will also be given away via the drive-thru at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, 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 a witness (along with the address of the witness) 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.
Your mail-in ballot may be delivered by hand (dropped-off) at any early voting site and at the Guilford County Board of Elections office (located in the Guilford County Courthouse; 301 West Market Street, Greensboro, N.C.).
To hand deliver the ballot of a relative, the Board of Elections specifies that the deliverer must be related to the voter in one of the following ways:
The related deliverer must also sign the last line on the voter’s envelope. The deliverer may not be an uncle, aunt, niece or nephew of the voter. All absentee/ mail-in ballots (they are the same) must be received by the Board of Elections by Tuesday, Oct. 27th.