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Media Advisory

Not for publication

Oct. 27, 2004 -- No. 521

Election Protection North Carolina establishes
voting rights hotline on UNC campus

Thursday (Oct. 28), 10 a.m.
Room 2601, Knapp-Sanders Building
UNC campus

Media representatives are invited to attend a news briefing on a voting rights hotline established to assist voters who encounter problems or see suspicious activity at polling locations on Election Day (Nov. 2).

The hotline operations, which will serve all callers from North Carolina, will be based in room 2601 of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Knapp-Sanders Building (home of UNC’s School of Government). The hotline is (866) 687-8683, or (866) OUR-VOTE.

UNC’s Center for Civil Rights, a component of the School of Law, and the Institute for Southern Studies’ Voting Rights Project will work with volunteer law students and attorneys – who will take calls from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Organizers plan to have 80 volunteers – 20 phones and four shifts – in place to handle calls.

The hotline is a project of Election Protection North Carolina, a statewide nonpartisan education and monitoring initiative with local and national partners including UNC’s Center for Civil Rights, the Institute for Southern Studies, N.C. Fair Share, El Pueblo Inc., Just Democracy, N.C. chapters of the NAACP and other organizations.

Election Protection officials say efforts are critical this year due to disturbing incidents in North Carolina, including:

· In 2000, more than 100,000 votes for president were thrown out in North Carolina due to various voting system failures, more than in Florida.

· In 2000, voters in Charlotte filed affidavits documenting 40 voters being turned away in one hour in a heavily African-American precinct.

· North Carolina ranks 44th in voter turnout from 1980 to 2000.

Community members, volunteers and officials will be on hand to answer questions, including: Anita Earls, director of advocacy for UNC’s Center for Civil Rights; Tara Purohit, director of the Institute for Southern Studies’ Voting Rights Project; Lewis Pitts, head of the N.C. Association of Trial Lawyers’ Civil Rights Section and an Election Protection poll monitor; law students from Just Democracy; and a representative from El Pueblo Inc.

Parking will be available at the UNC visitors’ lot on N.C. 54, near the corner of Raleigh and Country Club roads. TV and other media representatives with heavy equipment are asked to call Heather Hunt at (919) 843-9807 to ensure parking near the building.

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Contacts: Print, Deb Saine, 962-8415; broadcast, Karen Moon, 962-8595