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NC-09: “Native votes went missing in NC. Tribal leaders vow that won’t happen again next week.”

2 min read

Kudos to ThinkProgress for catching this:

Native American voting groups have made it their mission over the years to get as many of their members to the polls as possible. That effort has even greater urgency, as North Carolina prepares next week to hold one of its most closely watched elections ever.

The 40,000 voting-eligible Lumbee tribal members living in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District could swing the special election for the tightly contested U.S. House race pitting Republican Dan Bishop against Democrat Dan McCready.

Ahead of next Tuesday’s vote, tribal members have been knocking on doors to encourage their neighbors to get out to the polls. Working with the Native voting-rights group Four Directions, more than two dozen members of the Lumbee tribe have been hired to visit every home on the reservation, and to even drive people to the polls if necessary.

Just 26% of eligible Native voters cast ballots in last year’s election. Harvey Godwin Jr., chair of the Lumbee Tribe, told ThinkProgress that there are various reasons that fewer Native people turn out at the polls than he would like, and not all of them have to do with voter suppression.

“Sometimes people don’t want to vote, sometimes they don’t have transportation, and a lot of times, it’s apathy,”  Godwin said, adding that organizers “use whatever strategies we have to increase the number of people at the polls who are Lumbees.”

However, it seems a sound bet that — although no one knows for sure just how many votes from the Lumbee Tribe were caught up in the election fraud — voter suppression played a role in a good number of Native ballots that were never cast last year.

Republicans’ then-candidate Mark Harris garnered around 1,000 more votes than McCready during November’s midterm election for the congressional seat.

The state board of elections ordered a new special election, however, after it was discovered that longtime Republican operative McCrae Dowless had orchestrated a brazen absentee ballot scheme that boosted Harris’ vote total and suppressed votes for McCready. The district’s 700,000 residents have gone without congressional representation since January.

According to a Four Directions analysis, 62% of all requested absentee ballots in the election were not returned in Robeson County, the jurisdiction where many Lumbee Tribe members live. That’s a significantly higher percentage than the statewide rate of 16%, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the North Carolina Board of Elections.

We have a huge opportunity to flip this district and we cannot allow the GOP to steal this election again. Click here to get involved with Four Directions efforts to protect and get out the Native American vote. 

Click here to donate and get involved with Dan McCready’s (D. NC-09) campaign.

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