FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Contact: Joanna Woodson (828)227-7184 Jwoodson1@catamount.wcu.edu
Jackson County Board of Elections Approves WCU Polling Place
The University Center at Western Carolina University (WCU) is the proposed location of the newly approved early voting polling place (EVPP) for the November election. This action, aimed at increasing voter engagement on WCU’s campus, comes after months of research, organizing, and lobbying by students working with the Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) and Campus Vote Project, collectively known as the Democracy Coalition.
On May 31st, the students led by AGF Ambassador Joanna Woodson and advised by Dr. Lane Perry, presented their case to the Jackson County Board of Elections. One registered Democrat, one registered Republican, and one unaffiliated student, gave testimony to the Board for why they believed an EVPP was a necessary addition to the campus. The Democracy Coalition gathered over 1,000 signatures from students, faculty, staff, and community members to show the depth of community support for the action. The initiative also gained support from North Carolina State Senator Tom Apodaca, an alumnus of Western Carolina, and North Carolina State Representative Joe Sam Queen, as well as upper administration at the university.
“I am so excited to have a polling place on campus because it eliminates all the problems that kept students from voting before—the distance, the travel time on the shuttle, the issue of finding time between classes and work. This even helps with the voter ID issue. If students forget their ID in their dorm, they don’t have to go through all the trouble to make several trips,” said junior social work student Jill Reynolds.
WCU students make up 25 percent of Jackson County voters, and vote at a percentage higher than the general population of North Carolina. In 2012, the university saw its largest turnout in history, with 51 percent of the student body participating. By working with the county to bring the polling station to campus, the Democracy Coalition hopes to not only make voting more accessible to all constituents but also surpass its record voter turnout by aiming to increase participation to over 75%.
About The Andrew Goodman Foundation
Andrew Goodman and two of his contemporaries were young adults committed to equality, voting rights and social justice—they died fighting for those very commitments during Freedom Summer 1964. Established to continue Andy’s legacy, The Andrew Goodman Foundation inspires through a story that touches diverse Americans—Jews and Christians, young and old, blacks and whites—and empowers young people to fully participate in the democratic process. Join our journey to inspire more young people to pursue social change work, activate the important lessons of the past, and sustain today’s effective social action. To learn more, visit www.AndrewGoodman.org
About the Campus Vote Project
The Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) is a national, nonpartisan election reform organization working to remove barriers to registration and voting for traditionally underrepresented constituencies and improve election administration. FELN’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting and helps campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote. www.campusvoteproject.org