A toll-free, nonpartisan hotline is available to voters statewide with questions or concerns on Election Day, Nov. 6, as part of Election Protection, a national voter advocacy effort. Answering the hotline’s phones will be students and faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, along with other community volunteers.
Voters anywhere in the state can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) or 1-888-VE-Y VOTA (888-839-8682) with questions about their rights and the voting process. The hotline is open now for early voting (call from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to reach a North Carolina volunteer) and will be open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
During the 2000 elections, an estimated 4 to 6 million Americans were denied the right to vote, and 1 million votes were not counted, according to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a national organization that sponsors Election Protection. In 2004, more than 200,000 people called the hotline for assistance, resulting in legal action in Florida, Louisiana and Ohio. In 2008, the North Carolina call center fielded more than 1,000 calls from voters.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights, based in the School of Law, has hosted the North Carolina call center in the elections of 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and the May 8 primary, and is again coordinating hosting this November’s election hotline. The UNC School of Law Pro Bono Program and the UNC Black Law Students Association are co-sponsoring the hotline and have assisted with volunteer recruitment, hotline trainings and voter education and outreach.
Through the volunteer program, trained advocates, students and attorneys will provide voters with information to help them understand their voting rights. Statewide calls will be routed to Chapel Hill through the national Election Protection system.
“Volunteer lawyers, law students and advocates will be trained to answer questions from North Carolina voters, and are committed to ensuring that every qualified voter gets a meaningful opportunity to exercise the basic civil right to cast a ballot on Election Day,” said Elizabeth Haddix, senior staff attorney at the center.
According to Haddix, Election Protection is the nation’s most ambitious nonpartisan program for preventing Election Day disenfranchisement. The coalition of state and national allies seeks to ensure that every eligible voter casts a ballot that counts on Election Day. This year, in an effort to enhance voters’ ability to participate effectively in the election, center staff and UNC law students led a series of community education presentations to provide voters with information regarding registration, absentee ballots and early voting.
Center for Civil Rights website: http://www.law.unc.edu/centers/civilrights
School of Law contact: Allison Reid, (919) 843-7148,