Capturing the Flag (2018)
As the 2016 National Election unfolds around them, a diverse team of charismatic voter protection volunteers travel from New York City to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where they learn their skills at the polls - years in the making - are no match for the insidious game of modern-day voter suppression. How will they continue in the fight for democracy's most sacred promise to its citizens: the right to vote?
- Capturing The Flag begins in the fall of 2016 as three old friends - Laverne Berry, Steven Miller and Claire Wright - prepare to travel from New York City to North Carolina to do voter protection work at the polls. Laverne and Steve have been volunteering their time and resources in this way since 2008, but this is Claire's first election as a U.S. Citizen after immigrating from South Africa 18 years ago. Through their eyes and efforts -- and the hundreds of voters they try to assist -- the human dimension of democracy comes into focus. Their intimate journey as citizens of conscience uncovers stories about the strength and fragility of American democracy that are rarely heard in the current media storm.
We spend the four days before Election Day in Cumberland County, fully embedded with our team as they work to protect voters in the first presidential election since the 2013 dismantling of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. They came prepared for the intense ground game - with shifting boundaries and rules - that is local politics in voting precincts all across America. They attend rallies with President Obama and the Rev. William Barber II. They carefully study the 63 pages of North Carolina's election law, only to have a last-minute judicial ruling sow confusion for voters and administrators alike just three days before the election. When the polls finally open, they arrive before dawn to help voters who are grappling with a complicated landscape of new laws, conflicting information, changing districts and the fallout from illegal voter purges.
One voter is turned away from three different polling stations, even though she voted successfully in the primary just months earlier. Another finds the DMV lost his paperwork. Another is told to return with a photo ID, even though none is required in NC. Many are forced to vote by provisional ballot because the DMV has misplaced their registration. Others struggle to determine their correct precinct in the confusion of shifting districts. More are shocked to be told they have been eradicated from the rolls. When shortened voting times are layered on top of fewer polling places, on top of illegal voter purges, on top of DMV registration problems, on top of changing and gerrymandered districts, we are witness to multi-level voter suppression in action.
We follow our volunteers through an anxious poll-closing, then accompany them through the harrowing returns. Deflated, they return home. And regroup. They search for new alliances and pathways to battle voter suppression, finding inspiration in the growing movement of non-partisan pro-democracy organizations in both New York and North Carolina.