“In North Carolina, vote will be a test of new, tighter election laws — and of voters’ faith”

USA Today:

On the last Sunday of February, a sea of sharp suits and dresses flowed out of St. Joseph AME Church. Worship was over, but early balloting in North Carolina’s primary election was still open. It was time to vote. 

The congregation had been fired up by a nearly two-hour service, filled not just with gospel music but also sermons about threats to hard-won voting rights from a slate of more restrictive laws that have taken effect in the last year.

New limits on the time to return mail-in ballots. A ban on ballot drop-boxes. A law – once struck down as unconstitutional, then revived by a new conservative majority on the state supreme court – requiring voter ID at the polls. 

Soon the crowd was lined up in cars or had boarded a bus with a paper sign pasted onto the driver-side door that read “Souls to the polls.” They rode in a caravan to a nearby polling site, arriving to music from a live DJ and signs for various candidates.

“We shouldn’t have things that stop people from voting,” said Carla Gilchrist, 52, an elementary school teacher who arrived at the polling place with the church caravan. New barriers, she said, only cemented her desire to vote. 

North Carolina last year was among 14 states to enact laws in the name of election security that will make it more difficult for some to vote in 2024, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan policy group. The flood of laws in various states emerged following false allegations of voting fraud in the wake of Trump’s 2020 defeat….

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