Voter rights rally at NC legislative building leads to 10 arrests

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- A rally to protest voting law changes made since 2013 resulted in 10 arrests at the State Legislative building Wednesday.

The state leader of the NAACP, Rev. Dr. William Barber, led the rally and was among those arrested.

The arrests were made because of several noise complaints during the demonstration and the refusal of the group to leave after it was warned twice.

Protest leaders said changes to the voting laws in 2013 had a dramatic effect on last year's election.

“They call it the Voter Integrity Act but it has nothing to do with integrity and everything to do with stopping or suppressing voter engagement,” said Barber.

Barber said too many people have only focused on the group’s objections to the upcoming I.D. requirements. He said there are other concerns as well like the shortening of early voting periods and restrictions on voter registration.

“It targets African-Americans because it was used overwhelmingly by African-Americans,” said Barber.

The NCAAP provided statistics that show 70 percent of blacks that voted in 2012 did so during early voting compared to 52 percent of whites. The group also said blacks cast 31 percent of “right county, wrong precinct” votes in 2012 which was also barred with the updated law.

Other groups would like to see a repeal of the law as well. Anna Fesmire, co-president of the League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad, said she took numerous complaints following last year’s elections regarding long lines. Fesmire blames the change in early voting, the elimination of straight ticket voting and limitations on precinct voting.

A professor and student from North Carolina A&T University were also at the rally. Vashti Hinton is a junior who helps encourage students to vote. Her main concern is with the upcoming ID requirements for voting.

“I do work with a lot of voting agencies and getting student out to vote and we already have trouble getting them out to vote in the first place,” said Hinton, who said many out of state students don’t have driver’s licenses or state IDs.

The NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement groups plan on hosting a nationwide rally in Winston-Salem on July 13 to coincide with the start of the federal court case on voters rights filed against the governor.

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