November 4 is Election Day. Because of changes in election laws, it is important that people in our pews know when and where they can vote. All of the following are important:
- October 10 is the last day citizens can register to vote. To avoid any problems, your parishioners should be sure they are registered at their current address by October 10. Please consider announcing this from the pulpit on Sunday, October 5, and put it in your newsletter for that week. Or send it out by Facebook and Twitter – however you communicate with your congregation.
- Early voting (that is, before Election Day) will be available from October 23 to November 1. That’s fewer days than in recent years, but many early voting sites will be open on into the evenings. Many counties will have voting sites open on two Saturdays, and 10 counties will have at least one site open on Sunday, October 26. To find out about your county, contact your local board of elections or go to www.ncsbe.gov and look under “Voter Tools.” If voters wait until Election Day, they must vote at the polling place for their precinct.
- In previous years, many churches have taken part in “Souls to the Polls” after Sunday morning services, with worshippers piling into a church bus or van or cars and going en masse to an early voting site. Changes this year have greatly curtailed Sunday voting, but “Souls to the Polls” has never been limited to Sundays. You could have people come to the church on Saturday and travel together to vote or do it as part of a Wednesday evening program. In both cases, you’d need to check with your local elections board or online to be sure about hours and places to vote in your county.
- No one has to show a photo ID in order to vote this fall. Precinct workers will be asking voters if they have an approved photo ID, which will be required in 2016. There may be confusion about this, so be sure your congregants know that they do not have to have a photo ID this year. Don’t let them be misled or intimidated.
All of this information and more is available on a bulletin insert prepared by the NC Council of Churches. To download it and print copies for distribution at your church, click here. It’s in color, but it copies just fine in black-and-white.