Democracy NC: Same-Day Voter Registration

BlueNC has invited progressive organizations working for change in North Carolina to share their goals and experiences. Adam Sotak is an Organizer for Democracy North Carolina, a non-partisan and non-profit voting rights organization based in Carrboro. He responded with this call for same-day voter registration. (The N.C. Democratic Party State Executive Committee passed a Resolution of Support for Same-Day Registration at their meeting on Jan. 28 in Raleigh.)

Did You Know?

>> Over 1 million voting-age citizens
in North Carolina are not registered to vote*.

>> Over 300,000 potential voters
age 18-24 in North Carolina are not registered to vote*.

>> Over 400,000 of our state’s
1,000,000 unregistered voting-age citizens are 35 and under*.

* Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, May
2005

HUGE numbers of voting-age citizens aren’t
on North Carolina’s voter rolls, pointing to the need for Same-day
registration in the Tar Heel State. We’ll keep you posted as this
campaign moves forward. A large, statewide coalition has formed to advocate
for passage of SDR (same-day registration) in 2006. Get involved.

ACTION NEEDED

Get a resolution signed in support of
Same-day Registration in N.C. We need resolutions from individuals,
county party organizations, Democratic Party auxiliary groups, civic
groups, etc.

Download a copy of the resolution at:

http://www.democracy-nc.org/improving/SDRres05.pdf

Email Adam Sotak: adamsotak@democracy-nc.org for more information.

Below are: 1) findings from Democracy
North Carolina’s Youth Voter Survey, conducted in July 2005 by students
involved in our Democracy Summer program; and 2) Frequently Asked Questions
about Same-day registration at One-Stop Polling Sites (HB 851).



************

Survey Reveals Problems & Potential
of Youth Voter Participation in N.C. Elections


18-24 year olds say Same-Day Voter
Registration would boost youth voting in North Carolina

When North Carolinians age 18 to 24 were
asked to identify the state’s voter registration deadline, less than
2% knew that a person must register 25 days before Election Day.
That may explain why the voter registration and voter turnout rates
for young adults in North Carolina are well below the national average.

Democracy North Carolina conducted the
10-question survey with the help of ten college students involved in
its annual “Democracy Summer” program. The students conducted
face-to-face interviews with 529 North Carolinians who were 18 to 24
years old during the November 2004 election. The nonpartisan organization’s
survey showed:

► Only 1.9% knew the deadline
to register to vote was 25 days before an election in N.C.

► 68% of those surveyed who were
not registered
for the Nov. 2004 election said they would have been
more likely to register if they could have registered up to and on Election
Day.

► 34% said the process of registering
to vote is inconvenient, while 48% agreed that finding quality information
about candidates is a problem in the election process.

► 80% of those polled said that they
would support Same-Day Registration, including a majority of Republicans,
Democrats, and Independents.

Comparing North Carolina to States
With Same-Day Registration*

In November 2004, six states allowed
voting-age citizens to register up to and on Election Day (MN, ME, WI,
ID, NH, WY). These states had some of the highest voter turnout
rates in the country for adults and youth:

► Average youth (18-24 yrs.) voter
turnout in 2004 in 6 Same-Day Registration (SDR) states: 56%

► National average of youth (18-24
yrs.) voter turnout: 42%

► North Carolina youth (18-24 yrs.)
voter turnout: 38% 18% less than SDR states

For the full report, go to:

http://www.democracy-nc.org/whatsnew/2005/surveyPR.html

* Population and voter turnout data from
the U.S. Census Bureau, May 2005.

*************

Frequently Asked Questions about Same-Day
Registration at One-Stop Sites


NC HOUSE BILL 851 (Sponsored by Reps.
Ross, Parmon, Holliman)


What does House Bill 851 do? This
act will allow a citizen who misses the cut-off for registration (25
days before the election) to go to a one-stop voting site in the county,
show proper ID, register and vote. (One-stop sites open from 17
days before Election Day to the weekend before the election.)

Does a person have to show identification
to register and vote on the same day?

Yes. A person who wishes to register at an early voting site must show
the elections official a current North Carolina driver’s license,
utility bill, bank or payroll statement, or government-issued ID.

How will we know people are who they
say they are?
The one-stop site has accessible databases of driver’s
license and voter registration records, so the election officials can
verify the registration application immediately. If the identification
presented is something other than a driver’s license, then the person
will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, which can be disqualified
if the information about the person is incorrect.

What about registering on Election
Day itself?
The bill will provide funding to the State Board
of Elections to study the feasibility for expanding SDR to all voting
places on Election Day.

What has happened in other states
with Same-Day Registration?

In the November 2004 election, 74% of all eligible voters in the six
states with Same-Day Registration voted, whereas only 60% of eligible
voters in the other states voted – a difference of 14 percentage points.

Is voter turnout a problem in North
Carolina?
Yes. In the 2004 election, North Carolina
ranked in the bottom third of states in voter turnout. Over the
past two decades, North Carolina ranks among the worst ten states in
voter turnout.



Isn’t it easy to register to vote
already?
It might seem pretty easy, but for many people the process
can be confusing and intimidating. A 2005 poll by Democracy North
Carolina found that only 2% of 18-24 year olds knew the deadline to
register.

Will this help youth register to vote?

North Carolina has one of the worst youth voter turnout rates.
In 2004, only 43% of 18-24 year olds voted compared to a 64% turnout
for the whole state. Many young people are first time voters who
find the election process intimidating. Young people also move around
often and forget to re-register.

What does the State Board of Elections
think of this proposal?
State Elections Director Gary Bartlett
told a state legislative committee meeting in 2005 that the program
is feasible and can work.

Why don’t people vote?
A Census Bureau study found that the top reason cited by nonvoters was
that they didn’t have time. Many people don’t tune into elections
until after the registration deadline.

What about voter fraud?
A person must provide proof of identity and sign a statement, under
penalty of felony perjury that he or she is a U.S. citizen and resides
at the address given. There are very few documented instances
of fraud in states with Same Day Registration – no more than in states
without
SDR. (Six states have Election Day registration: ID,
ME, MN, NH, WI, and WY) Fraudulently voting in NC is a felony offense.

What does it cost?
The bill only asks for $75,000 for the State Board of Elections to study
the feasibility of expanding Same-Day Registration.











Democracy North Carolina at 1-888-OUR-VOTE www.democracy-nc.org

Comments

Adam

Do you have actions in mind for people who don't get out much . . . recluses like me? Is there a component of your campaign for individuals? Who are the key legislators who need to hear from us as individuals? When is the ideal time to start pushing, to start writing LTEs and op-eds?

Very happy to see you calling us to arms . . . just looking for some extra ammunition.

Welcome.

Should be easier.

We should have passed the super-voting-centers with same-day registration. If you can walk into a bank and walk out with a loan twenty minutes later, you should be able to vote. Centralized database with residency information and stations at each super-voting-center to compare info on hand to info in system.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

One source of opposition

I've heard it said that, generally speaking, absentee ballots tend to skew Republican while in-person voting tends to skew Democratic. If this is true, it would explain why when we hear about politicians making voting harder, it's always Republicans and it's always in-person voting. We see here that the Dems in Raleigh are for it, so if this doesn't happen, you'll know who to thank.

O.C.

will be getting some super-centers from what I understand. As a trial.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me