All posts by Katie Paulson

Turning 18 before or on Election Day 2016? Then you can vote in the primary!

Turning 17 may seem less exciting than the birthday that came before (sweet 16) and then becoming an adult at age 18. So, we have some great news to share for you soon-to-be-adults: you have the opportunity to exercise your voice in Election 2016!

If you will be turning 18 on or before the November 8th General Election, you can vote in the primary on March 15 (or vote early starting March 3). You will be able to cast a ballot in any of the primary elections (sorry, you don’t get to vote in any bond, referenda, or certain local run-off races).

You can register to vote during the One-Stop Early Voting (March 3 – March 12). You will be asked to complete a voter registration application (you can print one out ahead of time here) and show proof that you live in that county. You can bring a current and valid photo ID or a document that has both your name and your current address (it has to be something within the last two months: report card? standardized test?)

Don’t be left out, 17 year olds. Get into democracy now and prepare for a lifetime of voting, all starting in 2016!

Raleigh voter guide now available

For those of you who call Raleigh home, learn more about the candidates running for the offices of mayor and city council with your 2015 Raleigh Voter Guide.

Voter guide for Durham, Greensboro, Fayetteville, and Charlotte coming soon! We will post them as soon as they are available.

Election day is Tuesday, October 6. Local elections matter greatly. Make your voice heard!

Click here to review the 2015 Raleigh Voter Guide.


Important Update for 2015 Election: Same-Day Registration, Out-of-Precinct Voting Allowed

From the good people at Democracy NC:

“This may come as a surprise, but… due to ongoing legal wrangling, Same Day Registration during Early Voting and out-of-precinct voting on Election Day are in effect for the 2015 elections – at least until Federal District Court Judge Schroeder rules in the Monster Law case argued in Winston-Salem this summer.

Same Day Registration is a critical, “fail safe” option for citizens who have moved across county lines, are new to the state of North Carolina, or have recently become eligible to vote – and who miss the 25-day registration deadline (Sept. 11th for the Oct. 6th election, and Oct. 9th for the Nov. 3rd election).

To use Same Day Registration (only available during Early Voting), a voter must provide one of the following identifying documents to an election official at an Early Voting location:

  • NC driver’s license
  • Other government photo ID
  • Utility bill, bank statement, or payroll stub with name and current address
  • Student photo ID with a school document showing the student’s address
  • Any document from any government agency with the voter’s name and current address.

Out-of-precinct voting means that on Election Day a voter can cast a ballot that will be counted (at least in part) at any voting precinct in his or her county.

Again, a court ruling could change this situation, but for now Same Day Registration and out-of-precinct voting are the law of the land.”

2015 Election Update

Some of you will be voting in municipal elections this year.  To see whether or not your area will have elections for locally elected positions (such as mayor, city council, etc.), click here.

Absentee voting by mail for the September 2015 Primary begins this Friday, August 14 (not available in all municipalities).

This is a great time to make sure your voter registration is up-to-date and accurate. To vote in the September 2015 primary, you need to have your registration in by August 21, 2015 at 5:00pm. 

Here are some direct links to make sure you are ready to have your voice heard in 2015:

Notes from the Field: What is Your Turkey Creek?

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Filmmaker Leah Mahan

This quote has been swirling through my mind since I attended the film—Come Hell or High Water: the Battle for Turkey Creek—that NCLCV co-sponsored with Bennett College last week. This documentary demonstrates the profound love that Derrick Evans, a social studies teacher working in Boston, has for his ancestral, African American community of Turkey Creek, Mississippi.

Evans returns to preserve his hometown’s cultural history and soon becomes a community organizer and environmental justice champion by necessity. Turkey Creek had been established by a group of freed slaves, including Evans’ great grandfather, and has always depended on the use of the creek for water, fishing, and recreation. In recent years, Gulfport’s hunger for “undeveloped” land has put tremendous pressure on the people and ecosystem of Turkey Creek. As wetlands are filled in for housing developments, roads, strip malls and the airport, flooding and encroachment result.

So, Evans partners with many organizations to develop a plan to protect the cultural and ecological diversity of the area: a creek-based greenway system coupled with historic district designation. But just as his hopes for Turkey Creek are beginning to be fulfilled, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the BP Deep Horizon disasters devastate the area.

Evans’ struggle exemplifies the kind of love that “implements the demands of justice” for his neighbors and family members who have suffered displacement and discrimination. His love is the kind that builds the power of everyday citizens to find their voice and create the future they envision for themselves. It creates space for people who come from different classes, races, and histories to explore the varied reasons why they too love, and will fight for, one creek. This is why support comes in the moment of deepest crisis; Evans’ willingness to defend the place he cherishes enables people all over the country to join with his community in solidarity.

So, what is your Turkey Creek? What place, or community, or way of life calls you to act on its behalf? And how can we at NCLCV stand with you? We’re among many allies ready to put love into action.

Jodi Lasseter joined the NCLCV team in January as the field organizer for the Raleigh office. Share your thoughts on what place or communities calls you to action by emailing Jodi at

Bennett College students and NCLCV staff with documentary filmmaker Leah Mahan

Bennett college students, community members, and NCLCV staff discuss what social justice issues are impacting their communities

About 30 community members, students, and staff attended the screening of “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek” on February 11.
[Republished from NCLCV Blog with permission]

Notes from the Field: New Beginnings

Boots on the

You may have used this phrase used a time or two (or 3,478 which I may or may not have counted during the 2014 election).

But, what does it actually mean? Here at NCLCV, one of our “new beginnings” for 2015 is redefining how we’re putting boots on the ground in North Carolina communities.

While our field program in 2014 focused solely on nonpartisan voter participation (i.e. ensuring North Carolinians were registered to vote and also knew how to exercise that right), we’re shifting our grassroots efforts to help build the capacity for community leaders to make change.

What kind of change? That depends on each community. While our field directors – Aiden and Justine – have crafted a framework for all of us in the organization to think about our work moving forward (and we’ll get to what that is in just one minute), they also recognize that the environmental movement is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Too often, we in the environmental community get stuck in this mindset. Part of the challenge as a statewide organization is to help connect the dots on why a particular issue impacting natural resources in Yancey County affects the day-to-day realities of those living in Currituck or Henderson County. For certain issues, that is the reality. However, there is at least one critical thread that weaves together the big picture vision: transitioning our state and our world to a clean energy economy.

That’s right:

No. More. Fossil. Fuels. Period.

That may seem like a radical idea, but the line is written in the sand. Climate change is happening. Our air is polluted. Extreme weather threatens communities and cultures across the United States. Reliance on nonrenewable energy sources continues to breed social and economic injustices. Communities of color are disproportionally impacted by our reliance on coal and natural gas. Lobbyists for Big Oil and Dirty Energy fill our elections with lies and fear-mongering, leading to the election of candidates who will put their interests ahead of the collective good.

The list goes on and on. We have to start somewhere, and we believe the people of North Carolina are ready to take on this challenge. Over the last four years, we have witnessed several positive outcomes because of our state’s adoption of both clean energy and energy-efficient technologies:

  • More clean energy jobs are available, which are offering safe and sustainable employment to North Carolina residents.
  • Reports out this year showed that federal and state regulations, such as the Clean Air Act and North Carolina’s own Clean Smokestacks Act, contributed to reducing deaths from asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses.
  • Studies show that consumers in Charlotte and Raleigh are paying less by switching to solar rather than purchasing their energy from the major utilities.

Saving money. Saving lives. Saving resources. It all comes back to taking the time and effort to cut ties with the industries that continue to put their own profits over us.

This post will be the first of many of our “Notes from the Field” series. Staff, volunteers, and community members will share what’s happening on the frontlines in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Fayetteville, and tell how their local efforts to address air pollution, climate change, or coal ash feed into our broader vision.

Additionally, the grassroots work will help the rest of our organization prioritize what happens at the various decision-making tables, most notably at the NC General Assembly. We will continue to hold our leaders accountable, and as we see more and more community members engaged and leading on issues in their hometowns, we hope this translates to more meaningful, deeper interactions at the policy and political levels. Voting. Legislative meetings. Calls to action. It’s time for the majority of North Carolina to tap back into the political process. And, we hope this will be one avenue for those voices to be heard, speaking up on behalf of our state’s environmental priorities and our people.

Is there ever a good reason not to vote?

When does a voter not vote?

We would argue – never! All of those who have the right to B9315269001Z.1_20141201234703_000_GDB99MNA2.1-0participate in the process should. If we don’t, we are allowing others to control the system. Their values and beliefs may not align with our own, and they will be the ones putting leaders in power.

In a recent opinion piece, Camille Threats [pictured] writes about how she – a former congressional campaign communications director – made a decision NOT to vote. Do you agree or disagree with her argument?

Read her justification here.


Election 2014 is over. Now what?

Election 2014 has come and gone, and more than 2.9 million North Carolinians voted. While this number is the highest total of voters to participate in a mid-term election, it fell just in the middle if looking at percentage of Election North Carolinaregistered voters who participated. Just 44% of North Carolinians who were registered to vote actually cast a ballot.

It’s clear that we still have a lot of work to do in order to ensure all North Carolinians have their voices heard. Some parts of the new voting law went into effect this year, creating some confusion for voters who went to the incorrect precincts on Election Day. One of the changes for 2014 was that North Carolinians could no longer cast provisional ballots if they voted out of their precinct.

Voters experienced long waits during the early voting period (October 23 – November 1). The number of early voting days was reduced; however, these sites offered the same number of hours to vote as in previous years. Despite the extend voting hours, North Carolinians still experienced wait times of up to two to three hours in some locations.

Here at the NCLCV Foundation, we are crunching the numbers to help inform our work for 2015 and beyond. This year, we were able to help 15,000 North Carolinians register to vote, and our canvassers knocked on more than 175,000 doors in Mecklenburg, Forsyth, Guilford, Wake, and Harnett counties between October 13 and November 4. We are incredibly proud of all of our team members!

Stay tuned: voter education is a never-ending process. The issues at stake may change, but the need to participate in the democratic process will not. In fact, it will only continue to become more important as fears over dark money and special interests drowning out the voices of constituents grows.

News Clipping: Campaign workers pounding streets to get voters to polls

Watch the full video here!

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – The nation’s most expensive Senate campaign race is down to the wire, with polls opening across North Carolina for the 2014 mid-term election Tuesday morning.

Experts say the Senate race between Kay Hagan, Thom Tillis, and Sean Haugh increased early voter turnout. New numbers show nearly 200,000 more voters cast their ballots before election day compared to the election four years ago.

The candidates are also hoping for a high voter turnout on Tuesday.

On Monday, partisan and non-partisan groups were on the ground going door-to-door handing out leaflets and urging people who haven’t already cast ballots to do so on Election Day.

“We’re just making sure that they’re prepared for when they go to the poll place,” said Monica Massamba, with the non-partisan group North Carolina League of Conservation.

Canvassers believe ground work will get those few extra votes needed to ensure a victory.

“That’s when you actually get to see the constituents, and go to see all the people that are affected by the laws that are being made,” said Massamba.

For Sarona Bedwan, getting people educated about voting is a privilege she takes seriously.

“As a Palestinian, knowing about people trying to prevent you from doing the things that you need to do, it’s motivating,” she said.

Bedwan has been working with the North Carolina League of Conservation voters since September. In the last two months, she’s covered Gastonia, Mooresville, Statesville and Charlotte.

Her group uses tablets to track voters and map their walks. With the thousands of door knocks and steps, Bedwan and her team believe they’re making a difference.

“Building relationships – it’s hard and tedious work – but it’s really worthwhile,” Bedwan said.

Canvassers say they will continue knocking on doors until about 8 p.m. Monday.