By Luke Weir
A “Fair Courts, Fair Votes” town hall meeting will convene at the Boone Optimist Clubhouse Tuesday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m., organized by several North Carolina interest groups concerned by state lawmakers’ efforts to change judicial and electoral processes, according to an organizer of the event.
Logan Smith, Communications Director at Progress N.C., said his group has done around 20 such town hall meetings to spread awareness through North Carolina over the past few months.
“This is one of a series of town halls Progress N.C. is doing across the state with Democracy North Carolina, North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, and the state NAACP chapter,” Smith said. “We’ve been going around the state, talking about some of the radical changes that state lawmakers are trying to make to our courts, and also the changes they’re making to our elections.”
Some of the changes Smith mentioned include proposed laws to cancel primary elections for judges, gerrymander the judicial system, and cut judges’ terms from eight to two years, all of which threatens a free and fair democracy, according to a Progress N.C. media advisory regarding Tuesday’s town hall meeting.
“We’ve been going around the state and talking to people about, first of all, what’s going on—breaking down all the moving pieces into something that everybody can understand,” Smith said. “We’re also helping people find out how they can fight back and stop these changes and keep our courts and our elections independent.”
Smith said the proposed changes are a result of the Republican Party’s supermajority in both the North Carolina state house and senate.
“This is a multi-faceted partisan power-grab on pretty much all fronts, from the board of elections, to the state superior and district courts, all the way to the state supreme court,” Smith said. “Basically, you name an issue, and unfortunately this legislature has tried to inject partisanship and take away independence.”
Smith said he has seen crowds of between 50 and 100 concerned citizens at each of the 20 town halls held so far in both rural and urban areas across North Carolina.
“While a lot of the statistics are hard to keep up with these days, just because there’s so much going on, I do think that most North Carolinians are aware this legislature is not interested in giving up its power, or letting the people decide,” Smith said. “We’re trying to get all over the state as much as possible, but right now May 1 is all we’ve got scheduled for the High Country.”
The Optimist Clubhouse is located at 1012 State Farm Rd.