UNC School of Law students and faculty, along with other community volunteers, are staffing a toll-free, non-partisan hotline to answer voter questions on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., as part of Election Protection, a national voter advocacy effort.
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, and will remain active through the closing of the polls on Election Day.
During the 2000 elections, an estimated four to six million Americans were denied the right to vote, and one 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 over a thousand calls from voters.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights, based in the UNC School of Law, has hosted the North Carolina call center in the elections of 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and the May 8, 2012 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 their basic civil right to cast a ballot on Election Day,” says 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 for further enhance voters’ ability to effectively participate 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.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights is located at 323 W. Barbee Chapel Rd in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information about the Center, visit http://www.law.unc.edu/centers/civilrights
-October 29, 2012