Ignite NC Seeks Youth Organizing Fellows – Age 18-30

APPLICATION DEADLINE IS TUESDAY, January 7 AT 12:00PM. Decisions will be made by January 10.

The purpose of these fellowships is to build the youth and student movement in North Carolina.  In order to do this, we must make deep investments in young leaders – through training, ongoing coaching, and access to resources for on the ground organizing.

Ignite NC is seeking organizing fellows to build the movement for grassroots people’s power in NC.  From racial profiling to joblessness, young people must organize to change their own conditions and collectively build a better future.

If you are currently working with a campus or community organization, or have an exciting organizing initiative you want to bring to reality, this fellowship provides organizing training, mentorship, and a stipend to enable you to spend more dedicated time to organize.

The positions can be based anywhere in NC, through there are a limited number of positions.  If you are selected for this fellowship, you must be able to attend a mandatory organizing training on January 25-26 and an evaluation retreat in early May – both will take place in Durham, NC.  Gas stipends will be made available.

We are seeking candidates with a demonstrated commitment to social justice.  Women, LGBTQ, and people of color strongly encouraged to apply.  Considering applicants between the ages of 18-30.  You do not have to currently be a student to apply.

Organizing Fellow

Position: Fellow
Dates: January 25 – May 10
Hours: minimum of 100 hours

Location: Fellows will be hired to be based in and near campuses in North Carolina. A $500 stipend is offered with this fellowship.


  • Develop a work plan that brings capacity to the youth and student movement. This can be through an existing organization, campaign, or a new initiative.
  • Attend a mandatory two-day organizing training January 25-26
  • Write a monthly blog post about their project
  • Fellows will spend 25% of work doing civic engagement
  • Work with partner organization to help build the skills and capacity of youth and students and youth and student-led organizations’ ability to engage in long-term movement building,
  • Participate in early May evaluation retreat



  • A strong and proven commitment to progressive values and building the power of youth and students, especially LGBTQ youth, women, low-income youth, and youth of color,
  • Excellent communication and teamwork skills,
  • Available and willing to work some weekday evenings and weekends
  • Reliable, outgoing, self-motivated and detail-oriented,
  • Must have a driver’s license and preferably a car

Application Deadline: December 31

Interested candidates submit resume, cover letter (NO LONGER THAN TWO PAGES), and three references to Northcarolinaignite@gmail.com. Use the subject line “Organizing Fellow” in your email. In your cover letter, please answer the following questions:  

  1. Why are you interested in this organizing fellowship?
  2. Describe your organizing experience and how that intersects with your theory of change.
  3. What do you think it will take to build the youth and student movement in North Carolina?
  4. Tell us about someone you consider a role model and why.
  5. Tell us what organization, project, or campaign, you would be doing your fellowship with or describe your vision for your new organizing initiative (if you are unsure, what issue you hope to focus on).


Solutions to the problems facing North Carolina and our global community lie within our ability to work together for the common good and to build the leadership and power of young people to create lasting change.  In order to create the kind of future we all deserve, we must understand our past, defend the gains made by those who came before us, and ignite and empower everyday people to lead efforts to build a fair and just future. When those most affected by injustice are the leaders who find and implement solutions, we will create a better world.

Misinformation, Confusion, and Physical Barriers Plague NC Municipal Elections

This past Tuesday on November 5, Election Day, The NC Vote Defenders partnered with Democracy NC and student organizations and took to precincts across Boone and Charlotte.

The NC Vote Defender rally on the campus of Appalachian State
The NC Vote Defender rally on the campus of Appalachian State
Students rally to support voting rights and encourage their peers to head to the polls.
Students rally to support voting rights and encourage their peers to head to the polls.

Prior to Election Day, UNC-Charlotte students encouraged peers to vote using social media, as well as spreading the message around campus on the ground and in the classrooms. At Appalachian State, students made banners, raised signs, and held a rally to encourage people to head to the polls.

However, when youth and students went to the polls, many problems made voting harder than it should be. NC Vote Defenders went to problem precincts, helping voters find their polling locations, directing traffic, and providing information on the new voting laws.




In Charlotte, many issues plagued voters as they sought to participate in the political process.  Accessibility problems, poor labeling of polling sites, and blocked roads frustrated and confused voters and made voting much more difficult than it should be.  Even worse, polling locations were moved, further confusing voters who had been voting there for years.  The NC Vote Defenders found that these problems occurred mainly in precincts who served large populations of low-income voters and people of color.


Charlotte issues included:

  • Construction blocking Freedom Drive, the main road in front of Charlotte’s precinct 81, backing up traffic for many miles. Cones set up made the side road, which was supposed to be open to allow cars access to the precint, appear blocked off, as only a small sign directed people to the detour. The precinct had extremely low turnout, with voters complaining that it took over 90 minutes to find the location.
  • Filled parking lots at precincts, which required voters to circle the lot multiple times before being able to find a spot.
  • Polling locations that were moved to the back of buildings (and, therefore, no longer being in their usual location).  These problems were exacerbated by poor signs directing voters to the new locations, and a lack of curbside voting that led to folks driving away in the morning without voting.
NC Vote Defenders monitor the polls for voter suppression at Precinct 212
NC Vote Defenders monitor the polls for voter suppression at Precinct 212


In Boone, after the Watuaga County Board of Elections removed the campus precinct earlier in the year, students organized to move a location closer to campus.  They succeeded, and after the new locations were set up, the campus was split into two separate polling locations. This created mass confusion among students trying to vote.

As of 3pm on Tuesday at the student precinct – which was relocated to a night club – 62 regular ballots and 59 provisional ballots had been cast. Poll workers originally told student their provisional ballots would not count and discouraged them from voting. With intense advocacy from NC Vote Defenders, the poll workers’ resistance subsided, and students were given information and directed to their proper voting location.

NC Vote Defenders out in Boone
NC Vote Defenders out in Boone

As the new voting law is implemented in 2014, we know the suppression efforts and problems at the polls will become an even greater challenge.  To fight for the right of all North Carolinians to vote, we will need to ramp up our efforts of education and poll monitoring.  We cannot let those in power silence the voices of students, of people of color, and of low-income voters, who are all going to be hit hardest by these new laws.

We got a lot of coverage on Election Day!

Boone Vote Defenders Ready for Election Day.
Boone Vote Defenders Ready for Election Day.

Our work in Charlotte and Boone got a lot of attention yesterday, and we were featured in many different publications across the south. Lengthy pieces featuring the Vote Defenders were published in, Charlotte Creative Loafing, Carolina Public Press, and the Watauga Democrat.

On their, websites, you can find great interviews with the Vote Defenders and see them in action at the polls.

Additionally, the Associated Press wrote about the Vote Defenders in its piece on North Carolina’s 2013 election, and it was reprinted in the Greensboro News & Record, the Raleigh News & Observer, the Salisbury Post, the Hampton Roads Pilot, and in Univision Noticias.

NC Vote Defenders to Monitor Polls in Watauga and Mecklenburg Counties

Boone and Charlotte, N.C. – Beginning early Tuesday morning the NC Vote Defenders will make their second appearance at North Carolina precincts.  The NC Vote Defenders is a non-partisan project started by young people in the fall of 2013 to raise awareness of changing voting laws and advocate for all North Carolinians’ right to the ballot box – particularly in light of the new legislative changes.
In response to the new “Monster Voting Law,” which has been described as the worst set of voter suppression laws in the country, these young “Vote Defenders” will distribute accurate, non-partisan information about election laws and upcoming changes.  They will also document any incidents where prospective voters have issues casting their ballot.  In October, the NC Vote Defenders monitored precincts in Wake and Pasquotank counties, distributing voter education materials to hundreds of voters.

On November 5, sporting bright orange vests, students and voting rights advocates will stand outside polls in Watauga and Mecklenburg counties.

“We want to make sure that anyone who wants to vote, can,” said Jessica Injejikian, a student organizer with the Vote Defender Project who will be monitoring precincts in her home of Mecklenburg County with students from UNC-Charlotte and Johnson C Smith.  “There’s a lot of confusion out there, particularly around the Voter ID changes – which don’t actually take effect until 2016.  By handing out information and having a dialog with people, we will work to build a movement of engaged voters who refuse to let their voices be silenced and will protect and defend their right to the ballot box – despite the slew of new laws making it more difficult for people to vote.”

“The changes to the laws were designed and being enforced in a way that makes it harder for students and people of color to vote, that’s why US Attorney General Eric Holder is taking a hard look at them,” said NC Vote Defender and Appalachian State University student Albert Lindsey.  “Earlier this year, our county Board of Elections tried to change the location of the precinct where most students are registered to a location that was really inaccessible.  We came together as students and organized and won a compromise location, but unfortunately it shows that the current officials aren’t going to just do what is right.  It’s up to us to watchdog what they do – from poll workers to precinct judges to the members of the Board of Elections, to ensure our voice and vote count.  We’ll be at the polls to be allies to anyone who believes they’ve been unjustly denied their right to vote or who did not have a positive experience when casting a ballot,” said Lindsey.

Many parts of the new law are not yet in effect and the Department of Justice has filed suit challenging the new voting laws.

Recently, North Carolina’s new voting laws were featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. This segment included an interview with a Buncombe County GOP precinct chair who said the laws would hurt “lazy blacks” and “lazy college kids.”

“I was shocked when I heard him say blatantly, on national television, that he thinks college students are lazy people who don’t care, and it’s offensive that he said black voters in our state ‘want the government to give them everything,'” said Albert Lindsay.  “It was appalling and an embarrassment to our state. Other people were outraged as well – and so they signed up to become Vote Defenders.  Now they’re working for student voting rights to make sure Mr. Yelton and the General Assembly cannot silence us the way they intend to.”

The NC Vote Defenders recently held a rally for student voting rights in Boone on the campus of Appalachian State University.  “Students at the Vote Defender rally at ASU wore sunglasses before symbolically removing them to show that we will not remain in the dark,” said Bryan Perlmutter, Director of the NC Vote Defenders Project.  “Courageous young people fought and died for voting rights in North Carolina, the birthplace of SNCC and the Sit-in Movement,” said Perlmutter. “It’s our job to defend these gains and others made by those who came before us.”



The NC Vote Defenders is a project of Ignite NC, a youth-led organization supporting youth-led organizing efforts for justice and equality.

Solutions to the problems facing North Carolina and our global community lie in our ability to work together for the common good and to build the leadership and power of young people to create lasting change.  In order to create the kind of future we all deserve, we must understand our past, defend the gains made by those who came before us, and ignite and empower every day people to lead efforts to build a fair and just future. When those most affected by injustice and inequality are the leaders who find and implement solutions, we will create a better world.

~Ignite NC Vision Statement

NC GOP Leader Says New Voting Laws Hurts ‘lazy college kids’ and ‘lazy blacks’

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 2.21.00 PM
GOP Precinct Chair Don Yelton

Republican Leader’s Remarks Show New Voting Laws Are Designed to Disenfranchise Youth and People of Color

Durham, NC – On Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this past Wednesday, Don Yelton of the Buncombe County GOP clearly stated that our state’s new voting laws were passed not to prevent voter fraud, but instead to disenfranchise young voters and people of color.  In the interview, Yelton said the new voting laws – which include eliminating same-day registration and requiring a state ID to vote – would “kick Democrats in the butt.”  When asked if it might make it more difficult for some students to vote, he remarked: “If it hurts a bunch of college kids that’s too lazy to get up off their [rears] and get a photo ID, so be it.”  He showed the same sympathy for voters of color, saying, “If it hurts a bunch of lazy Blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.”

Clearly, these new laws are designed to limit the voting power of youth and people of color, part of the new emerging American electorate.  Mr. Yelton’s remarks cannot be any more clear or more offensive.  He doesn’t want students to vote, and he doesn’t want people of color to vote.  He’s glad that it is harder for people in our state to vote, because he doesn’t think everyone should have a say in our government.

With the voting rights of so many blatantly under attack, we have to make a stand and defend everyone’s right to the ballot box.  This is what the NC Vote Defenders are doing this election season, and we need your help.  Vote Defenders will be poll monitoring in in Boone and Charlotte on November 5, but we need more people who are committed to defending and protecting the voice, agency, and vote of EVERY North Carolinians in order to be successful.

Trainings are coming up for Vote Defenders in both these cities – in Boone on Tuesday, Oct 29, and in Charlotte on Saturday, Nov 2.  You must RSVP in order to attend.

Boone Vote Defender training will be next Tuesday, October 29 from 6-8.  Charlotte Vote Defender Training will be Saturday, November 2 from 2-4.  Please sign up on our website, and stand against these attacks on voting rights.  We all deserve to have a say in our government. Don’t let them get away with these attempts to silence your voice.

Volunteer to become a Vote Defender so that you can support the rights of all North Carolinians’ to the ballot box.  Vote Defenders will monitor polls on Election Day for voter suppression.  Boone Vote Defender training is coming up on Tuesday, October 29, from 6-8.  Charlotte training will take place on Saturday, November 2, from 2-4.

We all deserve to have a say in our government.  Stand with those who will be disenfranchised, and say no to the new Jim Crow.

Register Now for the Elizabeth City Vote Defender Training

The Elizabeth City Vote Defender training will be held on Monday, October 7.  We’re really excited about the great group of activists already signed up, but we need more vote defenders to make sure there isn’t student voter suppression on Election Day this year.  At the training, volunteers will be taught how to document incidents of voter suppression and how to help voters advocate for their right to the ballot box.

The training will be Monday night at ______.

Key Elections Approaching in Boone and Charlotte, So Sign Up to be a Vote Defender


One Election Day Down, One To Go

November 5 is Election Day in Watauga and Mecklenberg counties, and the NC Vote Defenders will once again be at the polls to stand against voter suppression.  Just as we did in Raleigh and Elizabeth City on October 8, we will be at various precincts in Boone and Charlotte educating voters on new voting laws, and documenting voter repression and advocating for everyone’s right to the ballot box.

We Need Your Help

We need volunteers to be Vote Defenders and monitor these polls.  If you stand for student voting rights, for equality in our state, and for the belief that voting laws shouldn’t throw up bureaucratic barriers to the ballot box, but should instead encourage voter participation, then please volunteer here!

Watauga County Vote Defender training will be held on the evening of Monday, October 14, on the campus of Appalachian State University.  Charlotte Vote Defender Training will be on Saturday, November 2 from 3-5.  Stand with the students, and stand for voting laws that encourage people to vote, instead of seeking to silence them.


NC Vote Defenders in the press!

Elizabeth City’s Daily Advance Covers Vote Defender Poll Monitoring


Vote Defender Bryan Perlmutter performs poll monitoring in Elizabeth City.

The work of our Vote Defender volunteers on Tuesday in Pasquotank County was covered by the Daily Advance.  Check us out at the Daily Advance’s website here!

If you like what you read and want to get involved, sign the Call to Action to support the cause, or volunteer yourself to become a Vote Defender.  We’ll at the polls on November 5th in both Charlotte and Boone.

Vote Defenders At the Polls: Election Day Poll Monitoring Educates Local Voters About Changing Voting Laws

NC Vote Defenders’ Organizing Fellow Lela Ali talks to the press outside of Aversboro Elementary School.


On Tuesday, Election Day, Vote Defenders were stationed at multiple polls around Wake and Pasquotank County. These volunteers handed out information on changing voting laws to make sure that local voters knew about their basic voting rights. They also helped monitor for any instances of voter suppression or intimidation.


Bryan Perlmutter, the NC Vote Defender’s Program Director, waits for voters to arrive at a precinct in Elizabeth City.
Vote Defender volunteers Molly McDonough and Mary-Kylie Cranford monitoring a precinct in Wake County.
Simone Boney got to the polls early to help make sure voters knew all of their voting rights.

While most new voting laws will not go into effect until 2014 (and 2016 for the new Voter ID law), there was still a lot of confusion over them this year. People showed up with their IDs just in case, and asked questions about when certain voting laws would start being enforced.  Vote Defenders happily answered their questions and alleviated confusion over the new voting regulations.

We’ll be at it again on November 5 in Charlotte and Boone, and we can’t wait!


They’re Ready: Wake County Vote Defender Training Prepares Volunteers for Poll Monitoring on Election Day

Bryan Perlmutter and Lela Ali lead the NC Vote Defender Training

On the night of Thursday October 3, local volunteers gathered in a classroom on the campus of NC State.  These concerned citizens joined the NC Vote Defenders at the Wake County Vote Defender training, showing their commitment to help ensure that all North Carolinians’ can exercise their right to the ballot box.

At the training, local volunteers learned about the suppressive new voting laws that have been passed in North Carolina.  Specifically, they learned when these laws will go into effect, which will help them educate voters at the polls, as well as advocate for anyone who encounters voter suppression.  Volunteers also learned how to document instances of voter suppression and how to seek remedy for these instances so that everyone who wants to vote, can vote.

Bryan Perlmutter role playing to show Vote Defenders what different problems voters may run into at the polls.
Bryan Perlmutter role playing to show Vote Defenders what different problems voters may run into at the polls.

We’re very excited to see them all at the polls on Tuesday, doing their good and necessary work to make sure everyone in Wake County can vote in their elections on October 8th.

But Wake County’s election is not the only election coming up on October 8th.  Elizabeth City, which has already been the site of voter suppression this year, will also be holding local elections next Tuesday.  The Vote Defenders will be active there on Election Day, and we need your help!

If you would like to volunteer to be a poll monitor and vote defender in Elizabeth City, we will be holding our Elizabeth City Vote Defender training next Monday, October 7th.

Sign up here and stand with the NC Vote Defenders for equality and justice in North Carolina!