Brief #71—Civil Rights

Policy Summary
On November 6, 2018, the United States held its biennial federal elections. As dictated by the U.S. Constitution, every seat in the House of Representatives was up for election as well as the required 1/3 of the total Senate seats which meant thirty – three Senate seats were being contested (as well as an additional two seats due a special election being called for a total of thirty – five Senate seats being contested nationwide).

In North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District the election was between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. After the votes were tabulated, Mr. Harris had a 905 vote lead over Mr. McCready with more than 280,000 votes cast in the district.  Mr. McCready conceded the election the next day. However, the state Democratic Party in North Carolina soon after filed numerous affidavits with North Carolina’s Board of Elections alleging wrongdoing with regard to the election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District and local elections in Bladen County. On November 30, 2018, in a unanimous vote, the Board of Elections announced that they would delay certifying the congressional election and declaring a winner due to “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities.” They also announced that they voted 7 – 2 to hold a public hearing on December 21, 2018 “to assure that the election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption and without irregularities that may have changed the result.” LEARN MORE

Analysis: While the issue of voter suppression has focused primarily on the issues of gerrymandering, voter ID requirements and discriminatory tactics, other tactics are just as often used and should not be ignored. The 2018 election from North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District and from nearby Bladen and Robeson Counties helps to illustrate how far some people will go to manipulate an election in order to have an outcome that they desire. The incidents are disturbing and have the potential to cast doubt not just on the integrity of North Carolina elections but on elections nationwide and the concept of democracy in the U.S.

In Bladen and Robeson counties, 3,400 absentee ballots were requested by voters but a high percentage were not completed and not mailed back. An analysis by the News & Observer found that many of the unreturned absentee ballots were from minority voters nearly 3 times more than from white voters who requested absentee ballots. This follows on the heels of Mr. Harris’ win in the primary election held in May where he won an astonishing 96 percent of all absentee ballots cast in Bladen County. Also, Bladen County voter Datesha Montgomery stated in a sworn statement that a woman came to her door and told her that she was collecting absentee ballots. Ms. Montgomery voted for two local elections and then was told by the woman to sign the envelope and that the woman told her that she would finish the voting on the absentee ballot for Ms. Montgomery. At least five other people have stated in sworn statements that people came to their doors and offered to fill out absentee ballots for them. These incidents occurred in neighborhoods that were primarily African – American. These are certainly troubling incidents and the Board of Elections made the right decision in delaying certification in the congressional race and in further investigating the allegations of irregularities and fraud. It is not about gerrymandering or voter ID but the incidents in North Carolina are still an assault on democratic principles and should be investigated so something like this will be prevented from happening again. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

  • The Voter Participation Center – non – profit group dedicated to registering and mobilizing the American electorate.
  • HeadCount – non – profit group’s infopage on states voting information.
  • – online guide with up to date information on voting rights.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact

Photo by Element5 Digital

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