By Robert Lopez
GREENSBORO — Several dozen people marked the first day of early voting Thursday by marching from the Beloved Community Center to the Guilford County Courthouse to cast their ballots.
“Your vote does matter,” the Rev. Nelson Johnson, executive director of the Beloved Community Center, told the marchers. “If you want your Medicaid and your health benefits, your vote matters. If you want a judge or judges who will uphold the law and interpret it in a way that is consistent with its meaning and not spin it to mean something else, your vote matters.”
The event, billed as a “Moral March to the Polls,” was sponsored by a coalition of groups that included the AFL-CIO, Working America, Guilford County Association of Educators, NC WARN, Beloved Community Center, Communication Workers of America and the Greensboro chapter of the NAACP.
Participants lambasted the legislature over recent changes to voting rules that include the shortening of the early voting period from 17 days to 10, and requiring voters to show a government-issued ID beginning in 2016.
Supporters of the voting changes contend they will help combat voter fraud. A trio of lawsuits challenging the changes is pending in federal court.
“If I felt there was abuse at the polls, I would be all for it,” said Elizabeth Foster, president of the Guilford County Association of Educators. “But it’s all a bunch of baloney. And it’s an effort to keep the common person from voting.”
As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, about 5,700 people had voted in Guilford County.
In Rockingham County, 2,059 people cast ballots.
Early voting runs through Nov. 1.
See the video here.