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For Immediate Release
September 3, 2013
Irene Cadwell, NCPIRG, 720.402.9177
Civic Groups Call on State Board of Elections to Protect Student Voting Rights
Raleigh – The ruling in favor of Montravias King by the State Board of Elections is a real victory for student voting rights in our state.
Students and civic groups including NCPIRG, Common Cause, Ignite NC, NCSU Student Power Union, Democracy NC, NAACP and Rock the Vote gathered outside the State Board of Elections meeting today to call on the Board to reverse recent decisions by local county boards of elections that make it harder for young people to vote and participate in our democracy.
The Board was meeting to discuss recent actions by county boards of elections including the Watauga County board’s decision to eliminate the Early Voting and Election Day polling sites from the campus of Appalachian State University and the Pasquotank County board’s ruling to prevent Montravias King, an Elizabeth City State University senior, from running for local office on the grounds that his dorm address does not give him “residency.” King has been registered and voting in Elizabeth City since he started college four years ago.
Students from Appalachian State University brought a bus full of students to the meeting to call for the return of their on-campus polling location. “When we heard that we lost our campus polling location, we knew we had to speak up,” said Appalachian State Student Government Association President.
In response to the Pasquotank County board’s ruling, Heather Smith, President of Rock the Vote, stated, “A young man bravely decided to step up and run for office so he can improve his community, and was told ‘no’ because he lives on a college campus. This not only conflicts with the law of the state, but it is goes against the very concept of a government of, for and by the people. We will not stand by as any county election board re-shapes democracy in North Carolina to be one where students are refused polling places on campus, considered unworthy to run for office, and otherwise treated as unequal citizens.”
These county decisions come on the heels of the drastic new state election law that rolls back early voting, terminates the pre-registration program for teens, and excludes state-issued student IDs from the list of acceptable IDs a voter must show to vote.
Outside the State Board of Elections meeting, students took photos of other young people holding banners with messages to the committee members that said “Please Protect Our Rights” and “Stand Up for Students.” Ignite NC held signs that said, "In the spirit of Medgar Evers, we stand with Montravias" and "This BS is so 1963."
“Even with this victory, this law and recent attempts to eliminate polling locations on campus are major setbacks for voting rights,” said Meghan Leonard, NCSU NCPIRG Student Vice Chair. “At a time when everyone is saying that youth should be more civically engaged, we should be fighting to make it easier for eligible young voters to cast a ballot, not harder.”
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NCPIRG, Common Cause, NCSU Student Power Union, Ignite NC, Democracy NC, NAACP and Rock the Vote have been working to make it as easy as possible for young people to vote for more than 30 years and will continue to fight to promote voter registration and voting rights for all eligible citizens.
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