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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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Bryan Perlmutter, the NC Vote Defender’s Program Director, waits for voters to arrive at a precinct in Elizabeth City.
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Vote Defender volunteers Molly McDonough and Mary-Kylie Cranford monitoring a precinct in Wake County.
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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

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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!

As Justice Department Sets Sights on NC Voting Laws, North Carolina Youth Train Election Protection Monitors in Response to New Laws

Contact Scott Davis at ncvoterdefense [at] gmail [.com] or 828-674-0951 for more information

North Carolina – October 1 marks the launch of a new youth-led project aimed to ensure every eligible voter can access the ballot box free from intimidation or incident.   The NC Vote Defenders are launching in response to North Carolina’s new “Monster Voting Laws”.  

“This set of new voting rules disproportionately and negatively affects students, people of color, and working families. In a region scarred by the legacy of poll taxes and Jim Crow, the NC Vote Defenders are determined not to allow our state to take steps backward,” said Bryan Perlmutter, a recent graduate from NC State and founder of the NC Vote Defenders.  “We are heartened to hear that Eric Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice are also taking action to challenge these outrageous new laws.  They are the last gasps of sad old men who are trying to hold onto power – the laws restrict the participation of regular people and instead serve the interests of the elite and those who have held economic and political power in North Carolina for too long.” 
 
“We are organizing groups of students across the state to monitor polls and guard against voter suppression.  The Vote Defenders will be boots on the ground, trained to educate people on changing voting laws, document any incidents on Election Day, and help folks seek remedies when and where we can,” said Jessica Injejikian, Charlotte NC Vote Defender Organizing Fellow
 
This fall Vote Defenders will be stationed at polling places in Boone near Appalachian State, in Charlotte near Johnson C. Smith and UNC-Charlotte, in Wake County in Garner and Raleigh, and in Elizabeth City near Elizabeth City State University.
 
Suppressing the Student Vote in North Carolina

  • One provision of the new North Carolina Voting Laws has removed pre-registration for 16 and 17-year olds, a widely popular and successful initiative to register up and coming voters.
  • In the aftermath of the new voting laws, the Watauga County Board of Elections immediately moved the One Stop Early Voting site off the campus of Appalachian State University to a hard-to-access site with poor public transportation access more than two miles from campus.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed students’ right to vote where they attend school in the 1979 case of Symm vs. US.  Yet, many students at Elizabeth City State University are still being told they cannot register and that if they try to vote, their votes will be challenged.

“Voter suppression and our new voting laws are not just affecting North Carolina.  This state has become a testing ground for regressive voting restrictions that take us back in time.  If these are not challenged, both in a courtroom and in our communities, other regressive state legislatures will take note and be ready to introduce their own restrictive voting laws – modeled on NC,” said Lela Ali, NC State student and Vote Defender.

“Students are the future – we have a right to vote and be heard.  North Carolina should be doing everything in its power to increase youth voter participation, not restrict it.  Voter suppression must be defeated in North Carolina, or else it will spread.  By educating the public and helping people advocate for their rights at the ballot box, we will turn the tide back toward accessibility and equality for all North Carolinians,” said Albert Lindsey, IV Appalachian State University Vote Defender.
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The NC Vote Defenders is a non-partisan organization.  It was started by youth in the fall of 2013 to raise awareness of changing voting laws and advocate for all North Carolinians’ right to the ballot box.

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 are the leaders who find and implement solutions, we will create a better world.

~Ignite NC Vision Statement

Register Now for the Wake County Vote Defender Training!

The Wake County Vote Defender training is coming up, and we’re very excited to see everyone that has already signed up there.  You’ve all made an important commitment to fighting for student voting rights in NC.  We’re ready to give you to the tools to do that, and to make sure that all student voices are heard.

But you can still sign up for the Wake County Vote Defender Training!  Click here and fill out the form to register!

The training will take place on October 3.  It will at NC State.  Time and room location will be sent out to those that have signed up.

We can’t wait to see all the Vote Defenders there.

No New Jim Crow!

It’s Already Started: Student Voter Suppression Hits NC on the First Day of Early Voting

Elizabeth City, N.C.—On September 19, early voting opened in Pasquotank County, home to Elizabeth City State University, an HBCU (Historically Black College or University).   Earlier this year, ECSU Senior Montravias King initially had his application to run for City Council denied by the Pasquotank County Board of Elections.  While King had been a campus resident, and had voted in Elizabeth City for the past three years, the Board of Elections cited residency issues as justification for this denial.  The ensuing legal battle between King and the Board of Elections gained national attention and was even featured on the Rachel Maddow Show. Ultimately, the State Board of Elections overturned the initial ruling, allowing King to run.  However, the challenge to his candidacy was just one more incident in the Pasquotank County Elections Board’s long history of suppressing student votes and targeting black officials.

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Students Turned Away at Polls, Right to Vote Challenged

Enthusiastic students from Elizabeth City State University held a march from campus to the early voting site last Thursday, September 19 – the first of early voting.  Eager to take advantage of Same Day Registration, the students brought documents and identification.  However, the all-white poll workers (Elizabeth City is less than 40% white) immediately acted hostile towards the students.  Outside, campaigners for the white mayoral candidate proceeded to tell students that they should not be allowed to vote.

When students attempted to register and vote, seven students were turned away because of what poll workers deemed “improper identification.”  Students who presented a residence assignment from the University, which included their name and dorm number, were told that this agreement was not a valid form of identification.  After arguing with poll workers, students were  told that if they used their dorm assignment papers, they could “expect their votes to be challenged.” Additionally, poll workers asked students, “Do you plan on abandoning your homes?”  This question was used to establish if the university address was indeed their residence.  Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court already ruled, in the 1979 case of Symm vs. United States, that college students have the Constitutional right to vote where they attend school.  However, those working the polls in Elizabeth City are still trying to silence students who want to vote in their local elections and affect the communities they live in.

Youth, Students, and Community Members Fight Back

On Sunday, September 22, the NC Vote Defenders went to ECSU to provide training on election protection and poll monitoring.  Participants included The Links, a local women’s faith-based organization, students in the Elizabeth City University NAACP Youth and Student Chapter, and members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

 

NC Vote Defender Training in Elizabeth City

Starting today, The Links will begin monitoring polls to advocate and document instances of suppression at the only early voting site in the county.  Additionally, students are organizing another march to the polls.  They are also gearing up to monitor the precincts near campus on Election Day. The NC Vote Defenders are helping to organize students and provide training for election protection work here at ECSU.  Vote Defenders will also be working at NC State, Appalachian State, and UNC-Charlotte.  Just two days into early voting, we have already encountered mass voter suppression. Students and youth are organizing to protect the right of students to vote. We will not stand for this.

Stand with us for students’ right to vote in North Carolina!

Organizing Fellows Build a Movement

From left: Albert Lindsey, Lela Ali, Scott Davis, Jessica  Injejikian, Ciera Echols, and Bryan Perlmutter
From left: Albert Lindsey, Lela Ali, Scott Davis, Jessica Injejikian, Ciera Echols, and Bryan Perlmutter

 

This past Wednesday was orientation for the five organizing and communications fellows with the NC Vote Defenders Project.  These young activists will be working hard to build a grassroots movement against the racist and discriminatory voting laws that have recently been passed in North Carolina.  At various schools (Appalachian State, NC State, UNC-Charlotte, and Elizabeth City State University), these fellows will be working to recruit a cohort of other student activists to stand guard against voter suppression.  When Election Day comes, the NC Vote Defenders will be out at key precincts, providing non-partisan information and informing everyone of the coming changes to voter laws. Additionally, they will help people advocate to ensure they are able to cast a ballot, as well as document acts of voter suppression to ensure that every eligible North Carolinian that wants to vote, can.

With their passion, knowledge, and deep concern for their state, these young organizers are determined to create a grassroots movement that will turn North Carolina away from the regressive path Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly has set us on.  Join them in the fight for equal rights and in rejecting North Carolina’s new form of Jim Crow by signing our Call to Action or volunteering to become a Vote Defender yourself.

Montravious King Allowed to Run

Press Conference State Board of Elections
Press Conference State Board of Elections

 

 

STATEMENT BY AMANDA BROWN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, ON MONTRAVIAS KING’S APPEAL TO THE STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS

Washington, DC – September 3, 2013

Let me first thank Montravias King for his brave and honorable commitment to his community and our country.  He has answered the call to citizenship by voting regularly on Election Day, by volunteering in his community, by running for City Council, and now by speaking out when our freedoms as young Americans are threatened.  He is a role model for us all.

When this young man and student of Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, bravely decided to run for City Council in order to serve his community – the one he has lived in since 2009, the place he calls home – he should have been applauded.  But instead the Pasquotank County Board of Elections told him ‘no’ because he lives in a dorm on campus.  He challenged the County, and won.

This ruling in favor of Montravias King by the State Board of Elections is a real victory for our democracy, and student voting rights everywhere.

Today we celebrate this victory.

As we celebrate, however, we are also vigilant.  This case was a blatant attempt to keep a student from exercising his fundamental rights.  And it was particularly outrageous given the fact that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the rights of students to vote where they go to college, and the state of North Carolina has a statute reinforcing this right for students to vote at their campus address.

We hope this decision today serves as a lesson that Rock the Vote, our allies, and students everywhere will not be silenced.  Hear our message loud and clear:  no politician can get away with this.  Not in Pasquotank County. Not in any other North Carolina county. Not anywhere!  Any attempt to penalize a young person for being a student by revoking their right to participate in our democracy is unacceptable and un-American and will not stand.

Congratulations and thank you to Montravias and to all of the students who came out today.