UNC School of Law students and faculty, with other community volunteers, are staffing a toll-free, non-partisan hotline to answer voter questions on Election Day, Tuesday (Nov. 4), as part of Election Protection, a national voter advocacy effort.
Voters anywhere in the state can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., the hours polls are open in North Carolina, with questions about their rights and the voting process. Assistance will be available in English and Spanish.
During the 2000 elections, an estimated 4 million 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.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights, based in the UNC School of Law, participated in 2004 and is hosting this year's efforts. Mark Dorosin, one of the senior attorneys at the center, said, "Volunteer lawyers and law students 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 their basic civil right to cast a ballot on election day."
Through the volunteer program, 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.
According to Dorosin, 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. It targets historically disenfranchised communities including Hispanic, black and low-income areas by providing voters with information and advice.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights is located at 101 E. Weaver St. in Carrboro, North Carolina.
-November 4, 2008