GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Maybe it’s apropos that, on the day that the January 6 Committee was supposed to have perhaps its final hearing, a bipartisan group preaching the defense of election security will stop in Greensboro on its statewide tour.

The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol on Tuesday postponed its hearing that had been scheduled for Wednesday, perhaps its last before its final report. In prior hearings the committee presented testimony about attempts by supporters of former President Donald Trump to try violently to stop certification of the 2020 presidential election.

Former NC Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr

That assault on the Capitol also demonstrated an assault on democracy, which is one reason we have the Trusted Elections Tour, a series of 15 town hall meetings – one in each of the 14 congressional districts in North Carolina and one virtual meeting – to promote security and voting access.

This bipartisan series of hearings is based on a project by The Carter Center of former President Jimmy Carter and is led by former NC Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr and former Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

This 13th stop is at 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, at 134 South Elm St. in Greensboro. The event is free and open to anyone.

Orr and Roberts are scheduled to attend, and each stop has a unique panel of contributors. On the lineup for Wednesday are:

Former Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
  • Dedrick Russell, executive producer for community content at WBTV.
  • Brad Reaves, a cybersecurity expert at NC State University.
  • Charlie Collicutt, elections director for Guilford County.
  • Carolyn Wilson Bunker, member of the Guilford County Board of Elections.
  • Mark Payne, former Guilford County Attorney.
  • Bob Hunter, a former justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
  • Bob Edmunds, a former justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court.

A release about the tour said that its sessions address public concerns about electronic voting machines and the security of the process of counting ballots.

All of those issues have been attacked in the aftermath of Trump’s unfounded claims that he actually won an election in which President Joe Biden prevailed by more than 7 million votes and a 306-232 advantage in the Electoral College. His assertions of widespread voter fraud have been debunked.

Those claims incited the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that led to seven deaths, hundreds of injuries, hundreds of arrests and dozens of convictions.

Wednesday’s hearing had been expected to focus on completing the picture of how those events unfolded and who knew what and when. There was no announcement about when the meeting might be held.

In the meantime, the U.S. House has passed a bill to ensure a smooth transition of power, and on Wednesday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) endorsed a parallel bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and others that requires the support of at least 11 Republicans.

Why this is important

Absentee voting in this November’s election season is underway, and early in-person voting will start on Oct. 20, meaning that the election process once again is in motion for the state’s roughly 7.375 million registered voters.

On the ballot are a seat in the U.S. Senate, 14 congressional seats, spots on the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, all members of the General Assembly and various local races.

During last week’s stop at Asheville, Chris Cooper, a political science professor and elections expert from Western Carolina University, expressed the reasons he thinks this project is important.

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“I think a lot of folks don’t trust the system, despite the fact that we had, really, a free and fair election in 2020,” Cooper said. “This is not a political process. This is an administrative process with political results.”

During a program on Sept. 13 at UNC Charlotte, Dena King, the first woman of color to be appointed as a U.S. Attorney in the western district of N.C., about responded to a question about legal challenges to voting.

“Everyone has a right to vote, and that right to vote needs to be without threats, harassment, fear, intimidation,” King said. “No one should go to a polling place and feel that their actual vote is not their vote.”