April 30, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Early voting in the weeks before the May 8 primary election in North Carolina in which voters will decide the fate of the anti-gay Amendment One is off to a strong start, with turnout expected to set a record for any primary election since the state instituted same-day registration and voting in 2000. As the Raleigh-Durham News and Observer reports, the first week of early voting this year was even stronger than the first week of the 2008 presidential primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, with almost 12,000 more votes cast this year than 2008. Including mail-in ballots, almost 122,000 ballots have been cast since early voting began on April 19.
While this promising head-start is significant, it only marks the beginning of what will certainly be a race to the finish line. The early voting turnout so far represents only two percent of registered voters, and early voting will no doubt pick up as May 8 approaches: in 2008, 70 percent of early votes were cast in the final six days. That means that this week is absolutely crucial: with that six-day period beginning on Thursday, our allies fighting Amendment One have about three days to effect what may be the most important voter education of the campaign. And once those final six days begin, it’ll take an aggressive push on the ground to get voters to polls either before or on election day.
In an editorial published yesterday, the New York Times came out against Amendment One, highlighting the negative consequences it could have for gay and straight couples alike:
North Carolina already has a law barring same-sex marriage, but the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature is not satisfied. It devised a measure to enshrine this obvious discrimination in the State Constitution and placed it on the ballot of the state’s May 8 primary election — a test of tolerance versus bigotry that ought to be watched closely nationwide.
In their zeal, lawmakers got careless with the wording of the measure, known as Amendment One. It would constitutionally prohibit recognition not just of same-sex marriages, but of other legal arrangements like civil unions and domestic partnerships. That could harm all unmarried couples, imperiling some children’s health insurance benefits, along with child custody arrangements and safeguards against domestic violence.
With a little over a week to go before the election, the No on Amendment One side has our work cut out for us. But as these early voting numbers show, although we may still face an uphill battle, we are going to make this election as competitive as possible.
1. Contribute to the campaign on ActBlue so they have the resources they need to get our message out.
2. Sign up for a Courageous Conversation about Amendment One with someone you know in NC.
4. Download social media tools and yard signs to show your opposition to Amendment 1.
5. Volunteer to Call for Equality – a GOTV phone banking effort against Amendment 1.
6. Sign up to help get out the vote in NC yourself! Courage Campaign is arranging out-of-state caravans and travel assistance is available.