Voting Rights Groups Hold Public Events to Counter ‘Dangerous’ Legislation

The North Carolina People’s Power Coalition, a coalition of over eighty labor, community, and faith organizations throughout, held "Days of Outrage" events at General Assembly in June. (Photo by Michael McElroy)

By Michael McElroy

July 19, 2023

Common Cause NC and other groups are hosting town hall events to hold lawmakers accountable for the state’s new 12-week abortion ban and bills that defund public schools and make it harder to vote. 

The Republican controlled legislature this spring passed a 12-week abortion ban over the objections of doctors and a majority of North Carolinians, and are poised to pass other major bills defunding public education and making it harder to vote. 

These measures reflect a “dangerous” and “disastrous” legislative session, the pro-democracy group Common Cause NC, says—one that has veered from the expressed desires and best interests of a majority of North Carolinians.

Though the bills face fierce resistance from voting rights groups, public education advocates, rural groups, school boards and the general public, that opposition has made little difference to a legislature with a Republican supermajority. The bills have each passed one chamber of the General Assembly but await final votes. 

Since the outreach to lawmakers fell flat, a coalition of advocacy groups led by Common Cause NC, is hosting a series of nonpartisan town hall events to take their argument directly to North Carolinians, who, polls show, already share their concerns and are looking for something to do about it.

“Ahead of more dangerous legislative proposals, regressive court rulings, a new redistricting cycle, and all-important elections,” Common Cause said in a news release this month, “we’re coming together for a series of #UniteNC Town Halls — in your district and across the state — to demand politicians answer for their policies and to our priorities.”

The groups will host nine events through Sept. 12. The first is Thursday, July 20, at the New Beginnings Community Church in Mint Hill, NC. 

The meetings will focus on Senate Bills 747 and 749 and House Bill 772, voting bills that collectively restrict voting access, muddy elections processes and make voter intimidation more likely.  

And the groups will warn of new efforts to come.

“In the fall, lawmakers are expected to embark on another round of redistricting, absent crucial protections against partisan gerrymandering taken away by the state Supreme Court,” Common Cause said.

Audience members will be able to ask questions and share their stories, and the groups have sent invitations to lawmakers representing each town hall site to attend. 

Bryan Warner, a spokesman for Common Cause NC, confirmed to Cardinal & Pine that invitations for the July 20th event were sent to Sen. Joyce Waddell, a Democrat, who said she would attend, and to Rep. Tricia Cotham, Republican, whose office confirmed she’d received the invitation but would not say if she’d be there.

Cotham won election as a Democrat in 2022, campaigning on promises to protect abortion access and defend LGBTQ rights, but she switched parties in April, and as a Republican, voted for the 12-week abortion ban and several of the other bills these town halls are meant to protest.   

“Some state lawmakers are hell-bent on dismantling our democracy, rushing through new restrictions on popular voting options, and manipulating their districts for partisan gain,” Gino Nuzzolillo, Campaigns Manager at Common Cause North Carolina, said in the news release. 

“Their ill-gotten power enables their behind-closed-doors assault on bodily autonomy, the environment, those living in poverty, our kids, and more. The #UniteNC Town Hall will remind lawmakers who they work for – and remind the public that we’re putting people over party in 2024,” he added.

The other groups organizing the events include, Every Child NC, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, the NAACP, Black Voters Matter, the NC Justice Center, the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, the Institute for Southern Studies, the Poor People’s Campaign and more.

Below is a list of the dates and locations. Each event will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. You can sign up for the events here.

July 20: Mint Hill, Mecklenburg Co. 

July 24: Carthage, Moore Co.

July 31: High Point, Guilford Co.

Aug. 1: Gibsonville, Alamance/Guilford Counties

Aug. 2: Fayetteville, Cumberland Co.

Aug. 3: Wentworth, Rockingham Co.

Aug. 7: Kannapolis, Cabarrus and Rowan Counties

Aug. 14: Wilmington, New Hanover Co.

Aug. 17: Salisbury, Rowan Co.

Sept. 12: Scotland Neck, Halifax Co.


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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