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Center Launches Voter Education Presentations

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Center Attorney-Fellow Bethan Eynon and UNC Law Students Kevin Delaney, Ernest Washington after making a Voter Education presentation at the Durham NAACP

Since 2004, the Center for Civil Rights has collaborated with the UNC Law Pro Bono Program to operate the North Carolina call center of the national non-partisan Election Protection coalition voter hotline. The hotline is a toll-free resource to answer voter questions up to and on Election Day. Election Protection, coordinated by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, is a nationwide voter advocacy and education coalition of more than 100 local, state, and national partners.

In the past, our work with the hotline has successfully preserved thousands of North Carolina citizens’ right to vote. Most recently, the Center and UNC Pro Bono's call center for the May 2012 primaries was open during all voting hours and fielded hundreds of calls. However, we noticed an abundance of issues that arise on Election Day that could have been avoided with adequate voter education. Often, by the time the voter calls the hotline it is too late to preserve his or her right to vote because of a missed deadline.

The Center for Civil Rights Election Protection team with the Durham NAACP president after the Center's Voter Education presentation

In response, the Center launched a pre-election voter education outreach program with the goal of ensuring that every eligible voter is able to meaningfully exercise the right to cast a ballot on Election Day. Through September and October, law students and Center attorneys will travel throughout Central and Eastern North Carolina to host voter education programs. These 30-minute presentations focus on several common voting rights issues, including registration, early voting, absentee ballots, residency requirements, provisional ballots, campaign activities at the polls, voter identification laws, redistricting, access to and assistance at the polling place, and how criminal history affects the right to vote.

Student volunteers from the UNC Pro Bono Program receive training in election law and voting rights and accompany Center attorneys to each event. Students have the opportunity to make the presentation and engage with community members to answer questions.

Kevin at the Durham presentation

I had a wonderful time helping to educate voters at the Durham NAACP meeting. Before attending the event, I anticipated quickly going through my slides and answering possibly one to two questions. My expectations for the event were completely wrong. Our audience was welcoming and eager to learn about the intricacies of North Carolina election law. NAACP members frequently asked questions and added comments that enriched the presentation. The presentation functioned far more as a conversation than a prepared speech. I believe we provided our audience with valuable information that they will be able to share with other community members. I’m glad I participated in the Election Protection Program and hope to participate in future events. - Kevin Delaney (2L UNC Law)

Ernest at the Durham presentation

"One of the things that I was surprised with was the interaction with those who attended. Also, Mark and Bethan did a great job preparing us and helping us out during the presentation to make sure that everything was as smooth as possible. From a personal standpoint, I’m glad that I was able to gain some speaking experience in front of crowds because that’s something that I’m going to have to do more in the future as an attorney. It also feels good that the people at the meeting legitimately appreciated the presentation and were so engaged." - Ernest Washington (3L UNC Law)

Past presentations include Durham and Hoke Counties. Future presentations will take place in Moore, Wayne, Pitt, Halifax, Orange, and Brunswick Counties. For more information, contact Bethan Eynon, Community Inclusion Attorney-Fellow, at eynon@email.unc.edu or 919.962.1044.

The Election Protection hotline is live now through Election Day. Voters can call 1.866.OUR.VOTE (866.687.8683) or 1.888.VE.Y.VOTA (888.839.8682) with questions about voting rights and the voting process. Assistance is available in both English and Spanish. Visit the Election Protection website for more information.

Upcoming presentations:

  • Oct. 6 | Moore County | 1:00 p.m. | Sandhills Community College
  • Oct. 9 | Wayne County | 7:00 p.m. | Rebuilding Broken Places | Goldsboro, NC
  • Oct. 11 | Pitt County | 7:00 p.m. | Greenville, NC
  • Oct. 22 | Halifax County | 6:00 p.m. | HD Pope Funeral Home | Halifax, NC

Posted by Bethan R. Eynon on Fri. September 28, 2012 2:48 PM
Categories: Law Students, Pro Bono, Voting Rights
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UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106


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