Allison Riggs Says North Carolinians Need to Know This About Voting During Coronavirus

Allison Riggs of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice

By Billy Ball

May 5, 2020

The voting rights attorney, who argued NC’s partisan gerrymandering case at the U.S. Supreme Court last year, makes the case for opening up voting during the pandemic. 

Allison Riggs is the chief counsel on voting rights and interim executive director at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, where she leads the organization’s voting rights program. 

Riggs spearheaded the legal fight to combat voter suppression and gerrymandering in North Carolina. And she’s argued twice before the United States Supreme Court, most recently in 2019, when she litigated North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering case

Riggs joined me Tuesday afternoon to talk about the case for election reforms, as North Carolina and every state in the nation prepares for a frantic 2020 election in the midst of a pandemic.

Democrats and Republicans in the state have been jousting over this year’s election, with progressives warning that, if COVID-19 remains a dire threat in November, the state needs to be ready to find other ways for people to vote, including mail-in voting.

Republicans have been cool to that proposal, with Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger writing last month that he had “zero trust” in a voting reform process led by Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration and state election officials. However, Berger’s leadership in the General Assembly has produced several allegedly gerrymandered maps, maps Riggs battled to have turned over in recent years. 

Riggs says the state needs to keep an open mind about the issue.

“As traumatic and tragic as the current pandemic is, we also have to keep an eye on the fact that if our democracy dies at this time, we’ve lost more than we can ever recover from,” Riggs told Cardinal & Pine

The voting rights expert also expressed “awe” for the voters who risked their health to turn out in the April 7 primary election in Wisconsin. 

For more on Riggs’ interview, watch the video below.


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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