Advocacy groups work to increase voter registration, turnout ahead of midterms

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tuesday, the NBA announced it would not hold any games on Election Night, instead having all 30 teams play the night before where teams will host efforts to enhance voter participation.

"We give all of our staff members the day off on Election Day. So it only makes sense to really extend that out to the players as well to make sure we're all doing our part," said Betsy Mack Rinke, the Executive Director of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation and Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility.

As part of their Swarm the Polls initiative, Hornets staff members will offer voter registration at games.

"We'll do a whole registration drive where we'll go out to different neighborhoods, different communities and different local businesses as well," Rinke explained.

Advocacy groups are hoping to capitalize on the momentum from the past two election cycles in North Carolina. In 2020, more than 75% of eligible voters cast ballots, up more than 7% from the 2016 election. In 2018, voter turnout was at nearly 53%, up nearly 9% from 2014 and the highest mark for a midterm since 1990.

"We were able to raise Asian-American voter turnout in the 2018 midterms by 17 percentage points compared to 2014. That's huge," explained "Jimmy Patel-Nguyen, the Communications Director for North Carolina Asian Americans Together.

"We have really focused on why local elections matter, how it affects the daily lives about your water, your government services that you need, affordable housing, development. All those issues are at the down-ballot, local election levels," explained Cheryl Tung, President of the League of Women Voters of Wake County.

The League of Women Voters of Wake County is partnering with Clouds Brewing to create a special beer and hold events at the restaurant leading up to the election. They are also sharing videos combatting disinformation and misinformation about the voting process.

"I think people want to understand especially with absentee ballots what is the process because they like that flexibility of being able to vote absentee and want to understand the process," Tung said.

Patel-Nguyen said they are going to phone bank, perform door knocks, and send direct mail to try and encourage turnout. Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in North Carolina, though they face certain challenges, including language barriers.

"I think it's really crucial for political candidates to recognize that in their districts they probably have a significant Asian-American population that isn't being reached out to and so their concerns and challenges are not being met," Patel-Nguyen explained.