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NC organizations engage voters on National Voter Registration Day

This story was originally published in The Daily Tar Heel.

As the midterm elections approach, organizations in North Carolina are working to get more people to the polls – especially on Tuesday, which was National Voter Registration Day.

The midterm elections will take place Nov. 8. The deadline for voter registration in North Carolina is Oct. 14. Unregistered voters can also same-day register and cast their ballots during the early voting period which runs from Oct. 20 through Nov. 5. 

On National Voter Registration Day, UNC Student Life & Leadership partnered with the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group, which aims to combat some of the issues impacting college students.

The two organizations set up tables in the Pit throughout the day to provide voter registration information to students.

Martha Plaehn, first-year and one of NCPIRG's secretaries and phone-banking coordinators, said voting is important.

"A lot of people sacrificed a lot to have this right, and we should take advantage of it,” she said.

Voter registration organizations

The League of Women Voters of North Carolina (LWVNC) is a branch of the national nonpartisan organization that promotes voter advocacy and registration.

Jennifer Rubin is a vice president of LWVNC and the president of the local chapter in Orange, Durham and Chatham counties.

She said she works with local businesses and organizations to coordinate events, including a voter registration event at Clouds Brewing Durham and an event in Hillsborough on Sept. 29, to talk with local officials about the voting process. 

“Anything that helps to get people registered is important," Rubin said. "Having some attention brought on voting, any way that that’s possible, is positive."

Rubin said that using Vote 411, a website that provides voting information, is a good tool for community members to learn about registration and voting.

“It's really important that young people, that all ages, races, political persuasions — everyone — is able to express their views through voting because those things will have long-term impacts on our ability to maintain a democracy, to maintain freedom to vote," Rubin said.

Through her experience, Rubin said she has felt that younger voters are becoming more informed about the politics that affect their lives, especially regarding reproductive rights.

“We've taken a big step backward in that regard, I think that's also motivating women and young college-aged voters to get engaged,” Rubin said.

Des Woods, the southeast regional managing organizer of Democracy NC, also said that controversy around reproductive rights and distrust in the 2020 election may motivate young people to make their voices heard.

One of Democracy NC’s efforts to increase voter participation is the distribution of nonpartisan voter guides to inform citizens about state and local elections.

“One of the things we're working on is, 'How can we rebuild faith and trust in the election process?'” Woods said.

North Carolina Young People’s Alliance (NCYPA) is a nonpartisan organization based in several university campuses across the state, including UNC. Its mission is to promote voter turnout among college students by advocating for classes to be canceled for a day to allow students to vote early. 

Junior Tyler Smith, the co-director for communications at NCYPA, said that the organization enforces the idea that constituents should be taken seriously. 

“Politicians love to have photo-ops with us, but once the cameras are gone, they're nowhere to be found,” Smith said. “We believe that the youth voices need to be heard and represented.”