Janice Covington Allison, a Charlotte transgender activist, called the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) bigoted and unsympathetic this morning on a Facebook post. The issue centers around the software the North Carolina Democratic Party uses to keep track of its members.
Vote Builder is used nationwide as a database management tool by local and state Democratic party organizations. Although there are other software management tools available, the NCDP contracts with and uses Vote Builder is its primary tool.
Allison, a longtime Democrat in North Carolina, says that when the party sends her correspondence they address her as the male gendered name she was given at birth.
Allison says that she has had to contact the state party on multiple occasions, over the years, to correct the error and each time they have promised to fix it.
“This has been going on for years,” Allison says. “And, every time I call someone at Goodwin House they tell me they will fix it, but they never do.”
Allison, who served on the NCDP’s state executive Council, said that it is embarrassing to walk up to the registration desk and be told her name is not listed in the database.
However Democratic Party officials say that the reason she is identified as male is because of Vote Builder and that, they say, is beyond their control.
But, Janice says that the NCDP excuse doesn’t hold water. She pointed out that Democratic candidates who run for office often have a different name, a nickname, on the ballot. “If they can call a candidate by another name then why can’t they do the same thing for me,” she says.
Vote Builder collects information from county and state Board of Elections to compile the data. So, if a registered voter’s information is wrong in the State Board of Elections’ database – it will be wrong in Vote Builder.
Charlotte Mayor, Jennifer Roberts, weighed in on Allison’s post this morning on Facebook. She agrees with Allison that it is a concern and it needs to be changed. However, Roberts did not give details or an idea of how she would fix the problem.
I responded to Mayor Roberts asking her how she would go about changing the policy and procedure with the state’s Board of Elections. Roberts is running for reelection this year. So far, she has one Democratic primary opponent: city councilwoman, Vi Lyles.
When a North Carolina citizen registers to vote, they have to show documentation that they live in the area in which they want to cast their ballot. In light of recent laws that have been passed in North Carolina’s General Assembly, primarily Voter ID, Allison’s concerns speak directly on the issue of voter integrity at the ballot box.
North Carolina Republicans have long since framed the narrative that some voters have been able to manipulate the system in an effort to unlawfully cast ballots against Republican candidates in an effort to gain more seats in the legislature for Democrats.
Likewise, it has been well documented on this blog as well as other publications that in the past, some Democrats have manipulated residency requirements with the full knowledge of NCDP party officials. Specifically Chris Hardee, the chair of the 3rd congressional district (who actually resides in NC 01) and Dylan Frick, who won his election as Democratic congressional chair while also being registered to vote in South Carolina.
At the heart of the matter is North Carolina’s voter ID law in where both parties have spent millions of dollars in attorney fees to litigate NC’s Voter ID bill.
Despite the complexities of the law, the arguments of disenfranchisement of the voting rights of minorities and the cost of litigation, Allison said her issue is simply personal as much as political.
Allison says it is degrading and discriminatory of the North Carolina Democratic Party when she has to explain that her gender identity is different from the documentation on her driver’s license and her birth certificate.
“You would think that of all the organizations out there, I would not have to fight the Democratic Party in my own state when it comes to my gender identity,” Allison told me in a telephone conversation this afternoon.
“This is why I fight; this is why I refuse to give up. I should not have to explain myself every single time I go to a democratic function and register for an event. I get more respect from some Republicans that I do from some people in the Democratic Party and I’m sick and tired of it,” Allison said.
Allison, who heads two statewide organizations: TransCarolina and the North Carolina Transgender Political Action Coalition, said that she filed the necessary paperwork to separate transgenders from the North Carolina Democratic LGBT caucus.
She says that several attempts have been made in the past to form a transgender caucus within the internal structure of the North Carolina Democratic Party. But, because of political maneuvering by the leaders of the LGBT, she has not been able to secure her own transgender auxiliary.
For over a year, Allison has been critical of the leadership within the LGBT community.
She specifically admonishes the Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina over what she considers “throwing transgenders under the bus.”
“Equality NC and HRC do not represent my transgender community,” Allison says. “They have consistently raised money off of our backs over the bathroom bill and they have refused to compromise with lawmakers because it is more financially lucrative for them to keep it the way it is so they can continue to raise money.”
“For people like Chris Sgro and Chad Griffin, HB2 is a cash cow. If it goes away so will the fundraising. And with that money they do absolutely nothing to support my brothers and sisters in the transgender community,” Allison said.
For over 40 years, Allison says she has tried to bring awareness that transgenders are at risk. “We are more likely to be killed because of who we are. We are more likely to be assaulted because of what we look like and we were more likely to commit suicide because we feel hopeless,” Allison said.
“But fundraising organizations and politicians use transgenders as talking points about equality and nondiscrimination. They talk about bathrooms when they need to be talking about suicide prevention. They talk about bathrooms when they need to be talking about economic opportunity for transgender’s who can’t get a job because of how we look,” Allison stated.
“The fact that the North Carolina Democratic Party refuses to recognize me by my chosen name at internal functions just reinforces my belief that when the camera is turned on them they will say one thing, but when the cameras are off they do things completely different. And this is why I fight,” Allison said.