DRNC appreciates all the voters in North Carolina who participated in our democracy by exercising their right to vote in the election. There are many close races and we know people are eager for the final results. We would like to remind everyone of the importance of counting every vote. Fair elections dictate that each ballot carries equal weight, regardless of the legal method used to cast it.
People with disabilities face many barriers to voting in any election. In addition, the 2020 election took place during a deadly, airborne pandemic that has already claimed over 233,000 American lives. People with disabilities and people of color have been disproportionately hurt by COVID-19, and many chose to vote absentee rather than risk going to the polls.
An accurate count is worth every minute it takes. Anything short of a full count not only threatens the legitimacy of our elections and sets a dangerous precedent, it effectively excludes disabled and other voters. Absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day must all be counted. Failure to do so will wrongfully diminish the votes of people with disabilities.
DRNC is also very concerned about the failure of our County Boards of Elections to ensure voters who live in facilities were able to cast ballots and have their votes counted during this election. People who need some assistance in their daily lives have too few options to receive support in our communities, and many end up living in facilities where barriers to voting can be insurmountable. North Carolina requires that every absentee ballot must be witnessed, yet at the same time, NC law prohibits staff in facilities from witnessing ballots for residents. Multi-party assistance teams (MATs) are supposed to be available to witness those ballots, but are not always available. This year, because of the pandemic, many MATs declined or were not allowed to enter facilities due to health risks, leaving these voters without an opportunity to vote absentee. This “perfect storm” creates the potential for widespread disenfranchisement of voters with disabilities and must be challenged.
“DRNC is proud of our community for demanding a voice in government and is committed to protecting the voting rights of people with disabilities, people of color and others who must overcome challenges to cast their ballots” said Virginia Knowlton Marcus, CEO of DRNC.