National Civic Summit - Democracy North Carolina - Adam Sotak
Same Day Registration in
North Carolina: Changing the
NC Same Day Registration Coalition
ACLU of NC ● ACORN ● African American Caucus/NC
Democratic Party ● Apartment Assn. of NC ● Common
Cause/NC ● Common Sense Foundation ● Conservation
Council of NC ● Democracy North Carolina ● Election
Boards Assn. of NC ● Equality NC ● Generation Engage ●
Institute for Southern Studies ● League of Women Voters/
NC ● NC Assn. of CDCs ● NC Association of Educators ●
NC Black Leadership Caucus ● NC Center for Public
Policy Research ● NC Conservation Network ● NC
Council of Churches ● NC Fair Share ● NC Justice Center
● NC Lutheran Synod ● NC PIRG ● NC NAACP ● NC
Women United ● NC Young Democrats ● Planned
Parenthood of Central NC ● A. Philip Randolph Institute ●
Southerners for Economic Justice ● SURGE/NC ● United
Holy Church of America ● UNC Assn. of Student
Why did North Carolina need SDR?
• NC ranked 44th out of the 50 states in voter turnout from
1980 - 2000.
• In 1996 & 2000 presidential elections, NC’s average voter
turnout rate was only 46% of the total adult population.
• In 2004 NC ranked 38th nationally in voter turnout.
• There were approximately 1 million eligible voters in NC who
were not even registered to vote.
• There were 400,000 young people ages 18-34 not
registered to vote. About 300,000 were under the age of 25.
Same Day Registration & our youth
• Youth ages 18-24 have the lowest turnout rate
of any voting age group.
• In a Democracy NC survey, only 2% of youth
aged 18-24 knew of the 25-day voter
• In 2004, only 38% of NC youth ages 18-24
The Nuts & Bolts…
In 2007, North Carolina became the first state in
the South – and the most populous state in the
nation – to allow registration and voting on the
same day. Under the NC law, citizens who miss
the normal deadline to register (25 days before
Election Day) can go to an Early Voting site
during the 17-day Early Voting period, show one
of the required ID’s, fill out a registration form,
swear under penalty of a felony that they live at
the address given, and vote – all on the same
Effective tactics for passing
SDR in North Carolina…
• Group endorsements and coalition building.
• Letters to the editor & media hits.
• Pressure on state legislators and political parties’ leadership.
• Public speaking events.
• Research (low voter turnout and registration information, youth voting
• Public education after passage of the bill – websites, emails, voter
guides, handouts, etc.
• Relationships with local and state election officials.
• Help from DEMOS and other national groups.
• Strong champions in state legislature.
• Focus on details of the legislation – what’s winnable? Election Day vs.
early voting; ID requirements, etc.
SDR – Amazing Success in 2008
• NC led the nation as the state with the
biggest increase in voter turnout over
2004 – SDR played a crucial part in this.
• Over 49,000 people used SDR in primary
election in May.
• Over 250,000 used it during the general
• Nearly half were first-time voters in the
county, while the other half used the law to
update their registration.
More SDR facts from 2008…
• African Americans make up 21% of the
voting-age population in the state, but they
were 36% of those who used Same-Day
• Even though 800,000 more people voted
in NC in 2008 compared to 2004, the
number of provisional ballots fell from
77,500 to 54,000 – largely due to SDR.