Just weeks before early voting began in North Carolina, Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old African-American woman, was informed that her voter-registration status was being challenged. If she didn’t appear at a county Board of Elections meeting or return a notarized form, she would be removed from the voting rolls.
Hardison has lived in Belhaven, North Carolina, her entire life and voted regularly for the last 24 years, including in North Carolina’s presidential primary in March. “The first thing out of her mouth was ‘I can’t vote,’” her nephew Greg Sattherwaite said after she received the letter. “She loves to vote. She will not miss election time.”
Hardison’s registration was challenged by Shane Hubers, a Belhaven Republican, after a mailing done last year by a candidate for mayor. Mail that was returned as undeliverable in 2015 became the basis for the challenge list.
But the mailings included many incorrect addresses. “My mail comes to the post office,” Hardison told WNCT TV, which brought attention to her plight in an October 18 broadcast. “I don’t have no mail come to the house. Ever since I’ve been here, my mail has been coming to the post office.”
The challenge list compiled by Republicans also overwhelmingly targeted black and Democratic voters. “Of the 138 challenged, 92 of them were black and registered Democrats. 28 voters were unaffiliated, 17 were Republicans, and 1 was Libertarian,” reported WNCT.