Last week, Rocky Mount served as the location for a fact finding hearing conducted by the National Commission on Voting Rights.
Legal experts, elected officials, civil rights advocates and others traveled to town to participate in the day-long event, which was held at the Opportunities Industrialization Center.
The hearing was one in a series of hearings taking place throughout the United States that are designed to gather information about voter discrimination, election administration problems, voter registration procedures and other challenges or areas for reform. The information will be used in a couple of reports that look at voting discrimination and election administration and electoral reform.
Those are extremely important issues that should be examined periodically, but it is especially fitting for the commission to be examining those issues now.
Last year, the N.C. General Assembly passed legislation that made significant changes to the state’s election laws, including requiring voters to show photo identification to vote in person starting in 2016. But the legislation went far beyond a simple photo ID requirement. It also made a number of other changes to the state’s election laws, including shortening the early voting period and eliminating same day voter registration during the early voting period. Many North Carolinians have taken advantage of those opportunities to make it easier for them to vote.
The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy.
As such, it should be protected and promoted. Lawmakers should do everything they can to encourage people to exercise that basic right, not make it harder for people to do so.