A bill introduced in Raleigh this week is stirring up some controversy.
Right now, state law allows folks who are blind, illiterate, or physically unable to fill out a ballot to have help inside the voting booth, as long as they explain their problem to poll workers.
However, State Senator RC Soles wants to change the law to allow anybody to bring anyone with them into the voting booth, no questions asked.
“This merely says that if you want somebody to go into the polling place with you that you can have assistance and they can go with you, it doesn’t make you have it, it doesn’t make you tell a reason why you want to have it, it’s just merely to encourage people to come on out and vote,” Soles said.
While Soles said if you have a disability, or if you can’t read, it can be embarrassing to have to explain that to a poll worker.
But not everyone is on board with his proposed changes to the law. “It would be a flood gate of problems of they were to pass the law,” said poll worker Dorris Strickland.
Strickland has volunteered as a poll worker in Columbus County in the past. She said even with the current restrictions, people try to manipulate the system, and influence votes by jumping in to help people that may not want or need it. “You would have the mentally handicapped that would be taken advantage of, you would have people that can’t read that would be taken advantage of. This is not right. They should be able to vote for who they want to vote for, and not have someone else vote their ballot for them.”
Members of the Columbus County Board of Elections say these types of things have happened, as recently as the November election. “This precinct here, several people drug a man up to the door and he was telling them he did not want to vote, they drug him up and finally he fell on the ground, and at the time, Carla went out and told them they couldn’t force the man to vote,” said Margaret Roland.
Board of elections members insist precinct judges are very discreet when verifying people need assistance, and she says the proposed changes could do more harm than good.
A spokesperson for the ACLU agrees that the current law may keep the disabled from voting if they don’t want to explain their disability to a poll worker.