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Top 10 issues at stake when you head to the ballot box

The wait is over- early voting began today.

For the past eight years a Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly has delivered crushing blows to the health, economic security, and safety of the people in the state. Beginning with then-House Speaker and now North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis’ “Divide and Conquer” approach to the most vulnerable populations in the state, Republican leadership has entrenched an institutional disdain for anyone who is not at the top of the economic ladder.

Here are ten issues at stake in this year’s election to think about when you approach the ballot box! Happy voting!

10. An Independent Judiciary

An independent judiciary is the backbone of our current system of government. However, Republicans, clearly dissatisfied with some of the verdicts North Carolina’s judges have dealt out in the wake of unconstitutional legislation and legislative power-grabs, have now attempted to take control of judicial vacancies. “Stung” by court rulings, Republican leadership imagines court-rigging as a perfectly acceptable alternative to judgements that check their power. Vote like an independent judiciary is at stake.

9. Common sense gun safety measures 

Republicans, at the mercy of the NRA, are largely reluctant to pass common-sense gun-safety measures that would keep all North Carolinians safe. They have voted against background checks and to allow concealed carry on school property. These tactics are all the more egregious in the wake of the Parkland shooting, when House speaker Tim Moore convened a committee on school safety but blocked debate on several Democratic amendments including gun reform. Republicans have made it clear: they choose guns over students. Vote like basic gun safety is at stake.

8. The right to live free from discrimination

The far-right has launched a coordinated effort to police peoples’ bodies, and have legislated who can build a family. While the infamous HB2 has now been repealed, there are still unresolved tensions around the repeal and local cities’ rights to govern around their values. The party of “Family Values” has indicated that only certain kinds of families matter. Vote like the right to live free from discrimination is at stake.

7. Bodily Autonomy 

In the past eight years, North Carolina has become one of the most restrictive states to access abortion care thanks to Republican legislators with an agenda and no medical degree. For example, at the time of its passage, North Carolina’s 72-hour waiting period was the highest in the country. North Carolina legislators, fancying themselves doctors, have mandated that patients send ultrasounds to the State Health Department and strong armed physicians into sharing medically inaccurate information with patients making decisions about their own care. Bodily autonomy is under siege in North Carolina ruled by a Republican supermajority. Vote like bodily autonomy is at stake.

6. Clean air, water, and soil

It is difficult to overstate the ongoing threats to a safe and healthy environment in North Carolina. Motived by unchecked corporate greed, Republicans have sided with multinational hog farming operations over their low-income neighbors breathing in toxic animal waste. They allowed Duke Energy to pass on the cost of cleaning up coal ash to consumers already struggling with high electric bills. Furthermore, they have made it increasingly difficult to fully assess the impacts of a harmful chemical seeping in the Cape Fear River. Republicans have signaled that they care more about profit than people and our environment is at stake.

5. Access to the Vote 

The Republican assault on access to the vote is one of the most pronounced threats to democracy in the state. Notably, Republicans passed a voter ID bill in 2013 that was struck down in the courts for discriminating against African-American voters “with almost surgical precision” and was deemed the worst voter suppression law in the country. Republicans have a chance to do it all over again this fall if the voter ID constitutional amendment passes. Vote like access to the vote is at stake.

4. Economic opportunity

The one consistent doctrine governing the chaotic reign of the Republican supermajority has been an unyielding allegiance to corporate profit over people. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has passed year after year of millionaire tax cuts, while raising taxes on middle class families. They have spearheaded efforts to cap the income tax which would likely result in higher fees for low-income people. They even passed a law that foreclosed the right of local governments in more expensive cities to raise their minimum wage. Republican leadership has signaled over and over that they only answer to their wealthy donors. Vote like economic opportunity is at stake.

 3. Public education that invests in students and teachers.

North Carolina has a long tradition of a robust state commitment to public education. However, Republicans have recently passed state budgets that prioritize cutting taxes for corporations ahead of compensating teachers fairly. These same budgets divest from education and leave per-pupil spending at pre-recession levels, leaving teachers scrambling to cover basic school supplies with their own money. As a result, North Carolina is losing teachers and students are falling farther behind. Vote like public education is at stake.

2. Affordable and Accessible Healthcare 

Every North Carolinian should have access to affordable and comprehensive care when they get sick. But according to Republicans, health insurance is a luxury reserved only for the wealthy. Aside from their politically-motivated and deeply spiteful decision not to expand Medicaid, which resulted in profound loss of life, Republicans have voted to dismantle health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions through a loophole in a bill. Moreover, North Carolinians already face some of the most expensive health care in the nation (the third-most expensive, in fact). Vote like access to affordable and accessible healthcare is at stake.

1. Democracy

Since gaining power in 2010 through a multimillion dollar coordinated effort to turn back time, Republicans have done all they can to entrench power, including packing courts, redesigning the State Board of Elections, and generally changing the rules of the game while they are playing it. Moreover, they have launched a full assault on basic human rights and turned their backs on entire communities across the state. If Republicans keep power for much longer, basic Democratic norms may be soon be artifacts of the past. Vote like Democracy is at stake.