Opening an email sent by the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce I saw something that caught my eye. The subject was “League of Women Voters to Provide Voter Education Training.” What really grabbed me, however, was the group involved: the very liberal Democracy North Carolina. I wanted to hear how Democracy North Carolina would educate voters without showing bias.
I walked into the classroom at Nash County Community College the night of the event and there were eight other people in the room. Two people were from Democracy NC, three from the League of Women Voters, two from Nash Community College, a man that was attending the class, and me. The two women that worked for Nash Community College left five minutes after the class started. Only two people were actually attending! There were three other voter education classes by Democracy NC in the area and I wonder how many attendees were in those classes. By that point I did not think that I was going to get any training on how to vote.
I was right.
“Forward Together Not One Step Back” was the video that the Director turned on and we watched for the first fifteen minutes of the seminar. The message I received from the video is that anyone who believes that we need voter ID is most likely racist and doesn’t want certain groups to vote.
A PowerPoint presentation was made after the video finished. A few of the key points the PowerPoint presentation made were about felons voting and challenges being made at the precincts. Someone who is convicted of a felony and has completed all of his or her sentence (probation, parole and/or incarceration) is able to vote. Felons need to re-register to vote before they can vote. There is a misconception about if, when, and how a felon can vote.
Challenges are made when you believe that the integrity of someone’s vote is jeopardized. The presenter thought that there may be more challenges this year in precincts because the Voter Integrity Project has been training people about proper procedures for challenging votes.
In short, the only voter “education” that I received from the presentation was that convicted felons should know that they can vote and that groups challenging votes just want to hassle people. The presentation ignored the common-sense belief that keeping our voting process honest would be a good thing. If someone is not doing something right, then their vote should be challenged.
There were several handouts that were passed out to the two of us in attendance. One item mentioned on a handout was that Voter ID “died” in NC. Looking at the history of the bill, it died courtesy of Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto but will most likely return in the upcoming long session. Many states see a need for a Voter ID Bill, and polling shows an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians support the simple procedure of showing a valid ID when you vote. (If you want to read the problems in the North Carolina’s elections, go to the Civitas Institute’s NC Election Central.) Needless to say, much like some “voters,” the Voter ID bill is going to come back from the dead.
Furthermore, the handout cited seven organizations as sponsors of the seminar. The seven organizations were Democracy North Carolina, NC NAACP, Unifour One Stop Collaboration, AME Zion Church, APRI of NC, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters. If you go to each organization’s website you will find their mission statement and what they represent. These groups publicly state that they represent several issues ranging from health care, taxes and educational achievement, but only Democracy NC and the League of Women Voters appear directly dedicated to elections and voter education. There may be an alternative motive to why some organizations are helping out with this voter education training.
When leaving this seminar I realized that I did not get any training on how to register to vote, or information on different voting options – such as absentee ballots or early voting sites. Instead, much of the seminar involved an attempt to indoctrinate me with slanted propaganda against Voter ID laws.
When going to any informational seminar make sure that you learn who is sponsoring the event, if anyone is going to attend, and what the organizations really stand for. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the receiving end of indoctrination and not education.