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We all have a part to play! Nugget logo, You Can vote logo

In October 2020, we partnered with You Can Vote to raise funds and awareness for their incredibly important work of educating, registering, and mobilizing voters. With the generous support of Nuggeteers, we raised $41,000 to support their efforts. Today, we’re catching up with Kate Fellman, the Founder and Executive Director of @youcanvotenc, to learn more about the impact that those Cover Clubs funds continue to have and what’s next for the organization. 

Headshot in a circular frame of Kate Fellman, Executive Director of You Can Vote

Kate, what’s You Can Vote all about?

Our mission is to help citizens become voters. We teach individuals and organizations about the right to vote, to empower them to become champions for voting and voting rights in their communities. Elections happen every year and it can be confusing and hard to find verified, local election information; we focus on educating people on the upcoming elections and how to use their fundamental right to vote.  Our work focuses on three main areas:

  1. Education and voter registration outreach and events. YCV educates voters where they work, shop, live, attend school, or receive services. Our volunteers and staff members hold quality, 1:1 conversations or group presentations with potential voters to discuss the mechanics of voting, what is required to vote, election dates and what is on the ballot. We complement our in-person conversations with phone banking, with over 543,000 calls made and 608,000 texts sent out in 2020.
  2. Our community leadership program that mobilizes entire neighborhoods and campuses. Our volunteers are trained on best practices on voter engagement, education and registration, all with the goal of increasing civic literacy. In 2020, we trained 2,836 new volunteers and 229 captains, who added to our growing community of 4,100 trained alumni. These individuals in turn create a ripple effect in their communities, informing and empowering their circles about the power of voting and driving out the vote each and every year! 
  3. Increasing accessibility. Individuals or groups can request materials in English or Spanish that explain how to register, what’s on the ballot, and where to vote. We want to make it easier to vote by breaking down the communication and information barrier that holds too many citizens back from casting their ballot. And in 2020, we’re proud to say we registered 16,500 voters!
Four You Can Vote volunteers wearing matching shirts and face masks giving the camera a thumbs up

What was unique about the 2020 election cycle?

In 2020, there was misinformation going around. In order to combat that, people needed to make sure they had a trusted source for their voting information. We focused on working with voting rights organizations to make registration information and training front and center, with print materials, posters, anything to help us access harder to reach communities mid-pandemic. 

It's especially important for first-time voters to participate because we know voting is a habit.
We also worked across 37 campuses to focus on college students. 2020 was a bit tricky because the students weren’t where they were supposed to be because of the pandemic! We helped students understand how to vote absentee, on campus, or at their home location; it’s especially important for first-time voters to participate because we know voting is a habit. Through our Civic Fellows program that runs every summer and fall, our student ambassadors conduct classroom education presentations, educate and register voters at events, and organize text and phone banks to mobilize students to get to the polls. People who are new to voting or are infrequent voters need extra support, so we bring voting information to young people, communities of color, people with disabilities, people who are incarcerated, and seniors. We pride ourselves in taking the information to the people who need it the most. 
Illustrated raffle tickets in various colors

What are voting challenges specific to North Carolina?

Attempts to mandate Voter ID make North Carolina a particularly unique case when it comes to voter participation and enfranchisement. North Carolina voting laws have been changing constantly since the U.S. Supreme Court rolled back provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Not only are the proposed laws continually challenged for targeting minority inclusion in the voting process, but the constant changes make it more challenging for all voters to cast their ballots. At our voter education and outreach events, we constantly hear from individuals who mistakenly believe that they cannot vote for a variety of reasons. At You Can Vote, we advocate for simple voting paths that ensure every citizen can successfully cast their ballot.  

Voter registration drive, with volunteer standing alongside a car with clipboard, helping individual register to vote

When individuals or groups donate to You Can Vote, like Nugget did through Cover Club, what do you do with those funds?

Donations to You Can Vote go directly to support the education of North Carolina citizens to understand and use their right to vote. General operating support donations are the best kind of funds for nonprofits; trusting us to do what needed to be done to support the voters of NC was so helpful and crucial to supporting voting rights. 

Donations help us train volunteers who then magnify our impact throughout the community, expands our reach to share vital information like how to register to vote, how to find early voting sites and schedules, the requirements to register at early voting, and increases our ability to turn out the vote — all really important information because the rules for voting change often in NC! And businesses, faith communities, nonprofits worked with us too, through our Voting Rights Champions program that made it possible for 450 organizations to distribute voting information to their constituencies. We’re always looking for ways to magnify our impact and expand our reach, and donations make that possible.

We're proud to say that our efforts translated into real results: we had the highest voter turnout in NC, ever!

What is on the agenda for 2021 onwards? There are always elections on the horizon.

Yes, we are going to be hiring more Campus Coordinators and Voting Rights Ambassadors going into the fall of 2021 to gear up for local elections and primaries in 2022. It’s going to take a lot of education to get people to vote again, so we are going to be doing a big push to make sure our students have the support and training they need to mobilize voters. We are also always looking for volunteers to register voters, make phone calls, and support our efforts. 

Illustrated raffle tickets in various colors

Thank you to Kate for chatting with us and sharing more about You Can Vote’s work. Check out their 2020 annual report for more information and impressive outreach statistics!