There’s a lot you can do to increase voter participation in your community – on your own or with an organization such as Democracy North Carolina. Because Democracy NC is a non-partisan organization, we can work with many types of organizations, including schools and faith-based communities.
Learn about how you can do more:
If you want to promote voter participation in your community, there are several things you can do as an individual:
- Register new voters – anyone may do this. Start by downloading our Voter Registration Kit. You can also obtain voter registration forms and instructions from your county Board of Elections. Remember all forms must be postmarked or turned into the Board of Elections at least 25 days before the election.
- Spread the word about voting deadlines, rules, and policy changes online. Democracy NC’s Digital Democracy Defenders (or #3D) is our first-ever online crowdspeaking team that amplifies our most important messages on social media by helping us say it together. Sign up now for upcoming information on how to spread the Democracy NC word where you already are — on social media.
- Distribute educational flyers – such as one about the voting rights of people with a criminal background. Contact Democracy North Carolina, the non-partisan sponsor of this website, for quantities of materials to distribute: 919-286-6000.
- Become an official poll worker and help voters at a polling place in your county. Contact your county Board of Elections about available opportunities and procedures to apply. Poll workers are paid and receive mandatory training from the county Board. Student assistants as young as 17 can also receive pay for performing certain duties at the polls. Being a poll worker is a great way to help the community and learn about elections from the inside.
- Sign up to be a non-partisan Vote Protector. Democracy North Carolina trains and deploys volunteers to monitor key precincts in counties all over the state on Election Day to help voters cast their ballot and connect them with experts when they have problems. You can get more information or sign up here.
- Review this handout for other ways you can assist voters at polling places and protect the integrity of the election process.
- Sign up to be a Board of Elections Watchdog. Your local county Board of Elections makes important decisions about voting all year round – from deciding where and what hours Early Voting will take place to reviewing provisional ballots to decide who’s vote will count. Democracy North Carolina has a network of volunteers that we train to monitor and advocate with their county boards all year long. You can get more information or sign up here.
- Stay updated on Democracy North Carolina’s activities and action alerts. Visit our Contact page to join our email list and connect with us on social media. Check out our website for ways you or your organization can work with Democracy North Carolina.
Churches, faith groups and other non-profits
Non-profit groups, including churches and social service providers, can do many things to help their members, clients and the public participate in elections as knowledgeable voters. They can sponsor a broad range of activities that promote voter participation, but the activities must be non-partisan – which means they cannot show favoritism toward a candidate or political party.
For more details on how you can get more involved, visit our online hubs:
- Faith Ambassador Network – for faith-based organizations
- Nonprofit Voter Engagement Project – for nonprofit organizations
For guidance on what activities are permissible, please download our Election Year Guide for Faith-Based Communities. The information in this booklet applies to all 501(c)(3) non-profits. Another excellent source for materials and trainings is the national group Nonprofit Vote.
Here are examples of what a faith-based organization or other 501(c)(3) groups can do:
Expand the number of voters in North Carolina.
- Make sure your members and clients are all registered to vote. Obtain voter registration forms and instructions from your county Board of Elections and review our Voter Registration Guide. You may insert registration forms into your programs or hand them out at a service, but don’t advocate for a specific party affiliation or candidate.
- Adopt a neighborhood close to your church or organization for a voter registration drive.
Educate people about the value of civic participation and impact that elected officials have on their lives.
- Host a guest speaker or a workshop on voting rights and the power of voters.
- Include bulletin inserts about voting in the weekly program for your religious service or put voting information on counters, tables, bulletin boards, etc. in common areas in your building or meeting space.
- Encourage your members to become paid poll workers (contact the county Board of Elections for details).
- Distribute flyers on topics like the Voting Rights of Ex-Felons, as bulletin inserts or in the community at barber/beauty shops, etc.
- Sponsor or co-sponsor a candidate forum. Invite all candidates for an office; don’t show favoritism, but ask them all tough questions.
Increase voter turnout in target areas.
- Preach to your congregation or talk to your clients about the value of voting during Early Voting.
- Encourage the county Board of Elections to open an Early Voting site on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday evening, or another time that fits with mobilizing your members.
- Provide rides to the polls as part of a “Souls to the Polls” or other event, especially during Early Voting.
- Recruit volunteers to call members of your congregation or organization and urge them to vote.
Publicize “Election Protection” hotlines for getting help with voting problems, discriminatory practices at the polls, etc.
- Publicize the Election Protection toll-free hotline: 888-OUR-VOTE.
- Recruit volunteers to help monitor or staff polls on Election Day.
High schools, universities, and community colleges can all play an important role in encouraging young people to vote. A provision for pre-registering teenagers under the age of 18 has been reinstated by the federal courts in July 2016. You can once again pre-register 16 and 17-year olds. NC high schools are required to have voter registration forms available, and civic groups can approach school administrators about conducting a registration drive during lunch periods, civic classes, sporting events, school assemblies, etc. Read more about pre-registration and how it works here.
Review the suggestions in the section above on churches and other non-profits because many of these ideas apply to a campus association or student group. Democracy North Carolina helps schools plan voter engagement programs and provides speakers on our core issues, including public campaign financing, voting rights, and the link between voter participation and our state’s economic and social well-being.
In addition, Democracy NC sponsors a nine-week training program each year for promising undergraduates called Democracy Summer. This program places students on the frontline of democracy as paid community organizers. Students learn the basics of social-change advocacy, political reform, and grassroots organizing tactics. Learn about Democracy Summer here, including how your organization can sponsor an intern.
For more information about Democracy North Carolina, visit www.democracync.org or call 919-286-6000.