DURHAM, NC — With insights from 40 counties and 12 election officials, Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and the Harvard Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation have released a report on election funding across North Carolina, revealing a critical lack of support for local elections.
Election officials from across North Carolina said funding challenges continue to cut into their daily operations, forcing them to cut back on voter education programs and higher staff pay — at a time when election denial rhetoric causes unnecessary voter confusion and wears away at the trust in our state institutions.
“We know election funding directly impacts voters’ election experiences, from the number of early voting sites to how long wait lines are,” said Katelin Kaiser, Counsel for Voting Rights at SCSJ. “Our report reveals the intricate dynamics between county budgeting decisions and voter access. Adequate election funding goes beyond Election Day and ensures that every voter can fully participate in our democracy.”
The report highlights ways future advocacy and research could help local elections:
- Most pressing needs for CBOEs are lack of own office space and understaffing due to low, noncompetitive salaries;
- Training for individual directors varies greatly — an informal, safe program for older, more experienced directors to mentor younger staff and smaller counties could be helpful;
- Identifying county parties and organizations that could provide more direct advocacy and political support for CBOEs; and
- Examining ways the State Board of Elections or the county can provide live and remote tech support where funding does not allow hiring a new, full-time specialist.
“Local election officials, especially those in smaller counties, need more support to carry out their job: keeping our democracy up and running,” said Jose Altamirano, former Harvard Ash Center Summer Democracy Fellow at SCSJ.
Members of the public are invited to learn more about election funding and advocacy efforts at a virtual training session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 11. The event — in which Spanish interpretation will be available — is hosted by Democracy North Carolina, Common Cause North Carolina, SCSJ, NC Budget & Tax Center, and NC Black Alliance.
Andy Li, SCSJ | email@example.com
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing, and communications. Learn more at southerncoalition.org and follow our work on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.