News Archives

We are a hands-on organization with a history of action. Read past web features and our old newsletters outlining some of our past activities here.

July 2011

A Man for All Seasons: Jake Gellar-Goad

Jake Montage

People volunteer for Democracy North Carolina for all sorts of reasons: they are committed to our mission, they want experience in our core areas, they are receiving course credit or they just want to see if activism is for them. Sometimes, it's simply because they are at a time in their lives when they can make room for volunteer work that promotes the kind of change they'd like to see in their state. Most often, it's for a combination of these motivations — and Jake Gellar-Goad is the perfect example of this.

Jake is a new kind of volunteer for Democracy NC, one we recruited through social media and on-line outreach. A recent graduate of the Master of Public Administration program at North Carolina State University, where he studied both public and nonprofit organization operations, Jake was in his last year of graduate school when he first heard of Democracy NC through our posts on the blog, Blue NC. We quickly learned he could be depended on to take action when needed, whether it was distributing our posts and action alerts to a wider audience, writing a letter to the editor, signing a petition or contacting a legislator on a key vote. But Jake quickly proved he was more than an armchair Advocate — he was an "I'll be there," hands-on kind of guy. Within nine months, in answering our calls to action, he had marched in a parade (wearing a sweaty puppet head for hours!), phone banked at our headquarters, joined us for Lobby Day and voting rights rallies in Raleigh, hosted a house party, attended an awards banquet and spoken about voters’ rights issues on WCHL radio. He even spearheaded a team effort to conduct a program and process theory evaluation of Democracy NC’s organizing program as part of a nonprofit management and public communications course he was taking. His energy comes as no surprise to those who know him. In the past, he served as volunteer coordinator for the Voter-Owned Mark Kleinschmidt for Mayor campaign, interned on the Jim Neal for Senate campaign, and volunteered with many other political campaigns.

We don't know how long we'll have the beneft of his talents — he's now graduated from NCSU and looking for a full-time job — but the impact he's made here will have a lasting effect and we are grateful to him for his service. To contact Jake Geller-Goad, please email him at


June 2011:

Bill to Raise NC Consumer Loan Rates Stalled

NC House Representatives, backed by a sudden infusion of more than $100,000 in 2010 campaign donations from consumer finance companies, filed a bill to allow those same lenders to raise interest rates to 36% on small loans and increase other fees. The bill now appears to be stalled in the Rules Committee and it is unlikely to be acted on this year — welcome news for consumer advocates. House Bill 810 flew in the face of recent reforms to protect North Carolinians against predatory lending practices and was opposed by military advocates as well as a coalition of consumer groups. Learn how the bill’s sponsors benefited from huge donations in last year's elections — just one of many conflicts of interests on display in the legislature this year.


June 2011:

Voter ErosionMeet Our Democracy Summer 2011 Team

Democracy Summer has begun! Six outstanding young people from North Carolina universities have joined our coalitions in Charlotte, Greenville and Winston-Salem. They will spend the next two months working with our organizers on such critical 2011 issues as protecting voting rights, fighting to preserve NC's public campaign financing of statewide judicial races and minimizing the effects of Citizens United. Learn more about Democracy Summer and how you can support the program here. For a firsthand look at what they're doing this summer, visit our Tales From the Frontline blog here.

June 2011

Spotlight on: Zette McArn, the Voice of Wilson

Zette McArn“Life has always been about serving.  Be it under the guise of taking food to someone at dinner time, running errands for seniors during the holidays, helping to keep a neighbor’s yard mowed or raked and volunteering at church, I have always been afforded the opportunity to help somebody.”

One of Democracy North Carolina's most dedicated Advocates is Wilson native Zette McArn, a community activist who was raised in the cultural blend of both North Carolina and New York. She attended college at Winston-Salem State University, where she studied mass communications, and her broadcast experience includes radio, television and print journalism.

She has put her talents to good use in her hometown, where her wonderful blog, Wilsonian Voices, provides a forum for discussing critical local issues. Zette has been working with Democracy North Carolina since last fall, when she instrumental in pulling together a nonpartisan GOTV coalition of churches and civic groups interested in keeping Wilson's voter turn-out strong. She is also active in local politics, and her many civic accomplishments include the Community Initiative Award from the City of Wilson’s Human Relations Department for the South District Neighborhood Association Alliance and being nominated for the Good Neighbor award. She is an outstanding example of how one person can use their unique talents to really make a difference in their community. If you'd like to be the gatekeeper on Democracy North Carolin's issues for your hometown, drop us a line and we'll talk! Meanwhile, here's a little bit more on how Zette became involved in community service:

What inspired you to become active in your community?

The lessons learned came early in life as the lady that raised me and my siblings was known throughout the community and the church for her giving spirit, nurturing nature and leadership in the community. Her name was Florence Batts Evans. She taught the three of us to care for others, respect our elders and be concerned about our surroundings. Watching her charitable acts, day in and day out, instilled in me the spirit to speak on behalf of those who couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t know how as well as a passion for the people to do what I could, where I was, and to walk an extra mile along the way to make sure the task was completed and finished. Watching her demonstrative spirit and what she did for others carried the message that, regardless of where I was, I must share a sense of love for the people and compassion for the community.

What are your professional and volunteer plans for the future?

Future endeavors definitely include more involvement in educating the community of their voting rights and responsibilities; community awareness; helping citizens become more involved in the process of local governmental affairs; and helping them better understand what elected officials do downtown that directly affects their daily lives. It behooves all of us, as citizens, wherever you are, to know what’s going on in your surroundings -- even if you don’t understand it all. You can find the answers to the questions, but if you’re not even aware there’s a re-zoning issue that involves your neighborhood or a forum scheduled to discuss concerns in the community, how can you ask anything? We have to become better stewards and informed citizens.



March 2011

Spotlight on: Nate AspensonNate

Democracy North Carolina depends on the volunteers efforts of thousands of people all across the state – including some who live right down the block!

When our neighbor and Durham native Nate Aspenson walked through our doors last March offering to volunteer, little did we know we were acquiring a whirlwind of action.Nate has had a passion for social justice for as long as he can remember.

After graduating from Guilford College with a joint degree in political science and fine arts, he returned to his hometown of Durham and has been working with Democracy NC while preparing for post-graduate studies. He has been an outstanding volunteer on many different projects and in many different ways, from writing letters to the editor and guest editorials on our issues to phone banking researching campaign contributions, conducting voter outreach to high school students, gathering candidate information, proofreading voter guides and much more.

We are grateful to him for his dedication and are encouraging him to enter nonprofit advocacy as a career.


January 2011

I Voted

10 Political Milestones of 2010

1.A Slap-On-The-Wrist felony: Mike Easley becomes the state’s first governor convicted of a felony.

2. Money Laundering: Two prominent political donors and business leaders are caught funneling large amounts of money through their employees to multiple candidates.

3. Outside Money: Republican candidates get a giant boost from a record amount of spending in General Assembly contests by outside electioneering groups.

4. Republican Reconstruction: A well-financed Republican Party wins majority control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time in over 100 years.

5. Count All the People: The 2010 Census will influence redistricitng, where businesses expandand where public funds will be spent yearly by the federal and state government.

6. Early Voters, New Voters: In-person Early Voting sets a record – with white Republican men leading all demographic groups in the use of in-person Early Voting for the first time.

7. Early Registration for Teenagers: NC begins allowing 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote, making them ready to head to the polls once they reach the eligible age to vote.

8. Public Courts: NC's voluntary program for statewide judicial candidates flourishes in 2010.

9. Instant Runoff Voting: For the first time in US history, Instant Runoff Voting is used in a statewide general election.

10. Radiant Sunshine: The 2010 legislature adopts a 25-page law requiring a host of new public records disclosure and ethics provisions.

December 2010

Taking Action on Federal & State Campaign Finance Reform

Sample ImageNorth Carolina U.S. Representative David Price (D) is one of the leaders in the presidential public campaign financing reform effort, while NC's Walter Jones (R), has introduced the Fair Elections Now Act (HR-1826) to bring VOE to U.S. House and Senate races. Price, Brad Miller (D), Larry Kissell (D), Mel Watt (D) and G.K. Butterfield (D) have joined Walter Jones in co-sponsoring FENA.

We need the support of North Carolina's US Senators for this bill, too! Email Kay Hagan here or contact Richard Burr here. Or visit our FENA Action Alert to send an email to both.

Keep up with national developments on the Fair Elections Now Act here and here.


Voting Up in 2010 Election Over Prior Mid-Year Elections

North Carolinians turned out to vote in 2010, posting a respectable 44% turnout, up significantly over the 37% achieved in our last midterm election (2006). There were hard-fought races in many areas of the state and a reshaping of General Assembly leadership that could impact the state for years to come. Check out what's ahead for state leaders and why this election mattered so much. Money played a powerful role in this year's elections: check back here soon for more on 2010 campaign donations and who benefited most. Many people worked hard to Get Out The Vote and we thank them for their efforts. But now comes the hard part: making sure politicians understand that they work for their constituents, not their campaign donors! Here are a few links to help you make sure that your elected leaders pay every bit as much attention to you now as they did when they needed your vote:

What they promised: here are some candidate profiles to review.

Being an active citizen: how to get their attention now.

What's ahead: our electoral reform priorities.

How you can help: volunteering for Democracy NC.



November 2010

Voting Information

Candidate Information


We're Gearing Up To Get Out The Vote!

VOE LogoAre you concerned about low voter turn-out? Would you like to see more of 2008's first-time voters return to the polls in 2010? Do you want to reach out to young people, ex-felons or members of your faith community? If so, we'd like to help you with your Get Out The Vote efforts. In addition to working with GOTV coalitions in Durham, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville and the Triad, we will be offering free Early Voting and Same Day Registration hand-outs, brochures on ex-felon and misdemeanant voting rights, voter guides, college and faith community GOTV guides and other materials. Visit our Resources and Take Action sections for more GOTV ideas, email us for more information or give us a call at (919) 286-6000 to discuss how we can be of help to you. Not registered to vote yet? Register here.

Master of Ceremonies

Lobby Day 2010 = Big Turn-Out

Nearly 150 Advocates joined us for our annual Voter-Owned Elections Lobby Day on June 22nd to call legislative attention to the need for elections free from special interest/big money influence. National commentator Larry Lessig was the keynote speaker. Click here to learn more.


High-Flying Team
Rocking the Youth Vote

Did you know that 16- & 17-year olds in NC can now register early to vote? NC’s Youth Preregistration law takes advantage of two settings where 16 year olds encounter the role of government – in civics class and at the motor vehicles office. Click here to learn more.


Master of Ceremonies
Well Said Indeed

Fayetteville teacher Kevin Hight has created an entire high school class of future citizen advocates who understand the importance of being involved in civic affairs. They even created a library of video and radio Public Service Announcements to inspire their peers to register to vote. Click here to learn more.


Taking Action on Federal & State Campaign Finance Reform

Sample ImageNorth Carolina U.S. Representative David Price (D) is one of the leaders in the presidential public campaign financing reform effort, while NC's Walter Jones (R), has introduced the Fair Elections Now Act (HR-1826) to bring VOE to U.S. House and Senate races. Price, Brad Miller (D), Larry Kissell (D), Mel Watt (D) and G.K. Butterfield (D) have joined Walter Jones in co-sponsoring FENA.

We need the support of North Carolina's US Senators for this bill, too! Email Kay Hagan here or contact Richard Burr here. Or visit our FENA Action Alert to send an email to both.

Keep up with national developments on the Fair Elections Now Act here and here.


August 2010

High-Flying Team
Youth Voting Poster Contest

Congratulations to Alexis Pena, a sophomore at Jordan High School in Durham, who won first prize and $200 in a statewide youth voter registration contest sponsored by the NC State Board of Elections, Democracy North Carolina and its youth engagement partners.


July 2010:

Meet Our Democracy Summer 2010 Interns

An-Que’ “Nicole” Cunnigan, Fayetteville

NicoleAn-Que’ Cunnigan, daughter of Bridgette Cunnigan and Jerome Boyd Jr., was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. In Las Vegas she attended Palo Verde High School, where she participated in many organizations such as the Debate Club, Varsity Cheerleading, and Student Government Association.


An-Que’ decided to further her education by attending Winston-Salem State University where she represents “Ram Love”, wherever she’s present. An-Que’ is a Political Science major and a senior this year that will be graduating December 17, 2010. She was very active in college being in clubs such as Political Science Club, Pre-Law Society, and Model United Nations Club where she always challenged her colleagues to push for civic justice.She aspires to obtain her masters in Information Systems and become an Intelligence Officer for the FBI.



Amanda Ellis, Fayetteville

AmandaAmanda Ellis, daughter of Lyda Ellis was raised in Raeford, North Carolina. During her time at Hoke County High School, Amanda participated in National Honor Society , the Beta Club, Ladies of Total Image and the Hoke County High School Marching Bucks Band. Amanda is now in her junior year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she always displays her Tarheel pride through her work with the UNC-Chapel Hill branch of the NAACP.


At UNC-Chapel Hill, Amanda double majors in philosophy and religious studies with special interest towards metaphysics and contemporary Islamic culture. After graduating in 2012, she plans to join the Peace Corps as a community developer.


Jabari Blackmon, Durham

JabariJabari Blackmon is a rising senior at North Carolina Central University, where he is a candidate for the Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. At N.C. Central, Blackmon is a University Honors Student and serves as the Senior Political Correspondent for the Campus Echo Newspaper. Blackmon – originally from Ohio – grew up in Durham, attended Neal Middle School, Durham School of the Arts and graduated from Southern High School in 2005.


An avid politico, Blackmon interned for Congressman David E. Price (NC-04) on Capitol Hill and also for the Congressman’s reelection campaign in 2008. He is also a former staff member in the office of N.C. House Member Representative Larry D. Hall (D-29) in the North Carolina General Assembly. Additionally, Blackmon is an active member of the Democratic Party, having served as the National Vice President of the Black Caucus for the College Democrats of America from 2008-2009.


Juanita Milbourne, Durham

JuanitaJuanita Milbourne was born in Rocky Mount,Juanita Milbourne was born in Rocky Mount, NC but has spent most of her life in Raleigh. She has recently completed her freshman year at North Carolina Central University. There she accomplished many things such including being honored in the NCCU First Steps Ceremony, participating in the 2010 Honors Convocation for Academic Achievement, and winning 3rd place in the 2009 University Speech Contest. Juanita is now in the process of earning her Bachelors degree in History and Government and she will soon receive her Paralegal certificate.


Juanita enjoys taking part of activities that involve bettering her community. She often volunteers at thrift stores and women’s shelters as well. Being knowledgeable of the government is something Juanita takes pride in. She feels that knowing what is going on around her makes living easier. Juanita loves spending time with her family and friends when she is not busy doing things in the community.


Ray Robinson, Winston-Salem

RayIn 2006 Ray Robinson graduated from North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After which Robinson relocated to Elizabeth City, North Carolina to attend Elizabeth City State University. In 2010 he received his BA in Political Science from Elizabeth City State University, where he minored in public administration. In his time there Robinson was a community organizer for a number of political campaigns and local non-profit organization.


His main areas of expertise have been community development, community organizing and non-profit management. This includes organization fundraising and coalition building. in 2009 he established a scholarship through ECSU foundation, raising 10,000 dollars for students. Robinson has also served as Finance Manager for the Universities Student Activities Community. During his undergraduate matriculation, Robinson served as Senior Class President, Student Senate member, and Chairman of the George W. Edmonds Scholarship for Achievement.


He is currently active in the community, as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and local mentoring programs.


Alannah Garcia, Charlotte

AllanahAlannah Garcia, daughter of Edward and Valerie Garcia, was raised in Cary, North Carolina. The third of four children, she attended Green Hope High School and was a member of the varsity women’s lacrosse team as well as the Green Hope High School marching band.


After graduating with honors, she enrolled in East Carolina University pursuing majors in international studies and cultural anthropology and a minor in Spanish. She continues to play lacrosse for East Carolina and is currently a member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars.


Alannah hopes to attend Georgetown University’s school of Foreign Service to complete her master’s degree in international affairs. Alannah enjoys photography, horseback riding, and spending time with her family.


Joyce Booth, Greenville

JoyceJoyce Booth is the youngest of six children and a native of Washington, North Carolina. She attended and graduated from Washington High School. She stayed very active in sports and multi-cultural organizations during the 3 1/2 years it took her to complete high school.


Throughout her youth she was engrossed in civic organizations such as 4-H and the Youth and College Division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. After working as NC Senate Page, she decided to further her education in Greensboro, NC and attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. There, she is in the midst of obtaining a BA in Political Science. As an undergraduate she is very involved on campus, but after finding a lack of a minority voice on campus she decided to establish the Black Student Union organization, which is entering its second year.


Upon graduation she will be entering the AmeriCorps program to travel the country and gain training as an organizer! In her leisure time Joyce enjoys cooking, shopping, and becoming a budding wine connoisseur.


Erica Hilton, Charlotte

WEricaErica Hilton is native of Fayetteville, NC. She is the daughter of Dr. Doreen Hilton and Col. Clarence Hilton. In Fayetteville, she attended Reid Ross Classical School where she participated in the Modern Dance Program, the Latin Junior Classical League, and Student Government Association, and was Miss Reid Ross Classical School 2006-2007.After graduating with honors in 2007,


Erica decided to further her education in Charlotte, NC where she is currently a proud “Smithite” at Johnson C. Smith University. At JCSU, Erica loves participating in organizations such as The Black Ink Monks, Communication Arts Student Association, Community Service Committee, and is currently the SGA Student Body President.


After graduation, Erica wants to earn a Masters in Communications concentrating in nonprofit/corporate communications and eventually become the Communications Director for a nonprofit organization and eventually start her own as well.


Ana Eusse, Greenville

AnaAna Eusse is a native of Englewood, New Jersey. After graduating from Dwight Morrow High School as Vice President of her class and with salutatorian awards, she enrolled in Montclair State University. While there, she decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Latin American Studies. As a member of the Latin American Student Organization, she was involved in community activities and events dedicated to exposing the beauties of Latino/Hispanic culture.


In May 2007, Ana was accepted into the Walt Disney World Company Student Internship, where she worked with top celebrities such as Mickey Mouse, Captain Hook, Ursula, and Simba. When one of her roommates introduced her to North Carolina, she decided to transfer to East Carolina University and become a member of the Pirate nation! In addition to attending school, she works at Barnes and Noble as a dedicated bookseller and volunteers with ALMAS, an organization dedicated to increasing bilingual skills amongst Latina women.


Recently, she participated in T.R.I.P.S, a program that allowed a group of Pirate students to go to Delaplane, VA and plant over 300 trees to revitalize the ecosystem. Another important event for Ana is consistently volunteering on Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She considers him her role model. In her free time, Ana loves taking long drives into the rural areas of Eastern North Carolina and watching documentaries to expand her sociological imagination. Once she graduates from ECU, Ana has decided to join AmeriCorps and follow up with PeaceCorps.


Sean Maxwell, Winston-Salem

SeanSean Maxwell is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a native of Winston-Salem, NC. He is majoring in Political Science with a minor in History. At UNC, Sean has conducted research on presidential and White House operations for a faculty member of the Political Science Department and is currently a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honors society.


Last summer Sean was an intern in the Washington office of Congressman David Price, and this past fall he served on the Sustainable Community Visioning Task Force in Chapel Hill. The task force studied future town development and generated growth guidelines for the Chapel Hill Town Council. In the spring semester he returned to Washington and was an intern at the Department of Homeland Security’s Political Asylum division, where he performed basic research on country conditions and dissident movements. Recently, UNC’s student body president appointed Sean as one of several Town and External Relations Liaisons. In the upcoming school year, Sean will be responsible for balancing student concerns with the needs of town officials and local residents.


Sean also volunteers with the Honor Flight network, a group that flies WWII veterans to Washington at no charge to visit the memorials dedicated to their sacrifices. When not participating in civic affairs, Sean enjoys reading about current events, taking long drives while listening to music, and playing pickup basketball. He still needs lots of work on his jumpshot.


April 2010

Democracy NC Joins Kids Voting Durham in School Board Forum for Candidates and Tomorrow's Voters

Art SuppliesDemocracy NC recently joined Kids Voting Durham in sponsoring a forum that brought local school board candidates together with young people from a number of public elementary, middle and high schools in Durham County. Under the rules of the forum, only students were allowed to decide on and ask questions of the candidates -- and they came up with some doozies:

"How are you going to make the buses safe and stop the fighting on them?"

"Why aren't our school lunches more nutritious? What are you going to do about that?"

"What would your first priority as a school board member be?"

Candidates were interviewed round robin style by small groups of students according to district, allowing the participants to evaluate candidates aganst their opponents. Follow-up questions were often pointed and tough: "But what do YOU intend to do about it if we decide to vote for you?"

At the end of the night, candidates gave 2-minute speeches and students were then given the opportunity to vote on the candidates of their choice. They will also be allowed to vote on-line and in person at participating precincts during the Primary, with the results reported in local newspapers along with the official Primary results. For more on Kids Voting and how you can replicate a program like this in your town, please visit Kids Voting Durham.



Statewide Primary turn-out on May 4th was a pitiful 15%. You can review the preliminary results of the primary election on the website of the State Board of Elections. The anti-government furor of the Tea Party failed to produce any broad shifts in election outcomes: Learn more here by scrolling to the May 5th entry. North Carolina now faces an expensive primary Run-Off election on June 22nd to determine the Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate. Would Instant Run-Off Voting have been a better option? Download our IRV fact Sheet to learn more.



Making A Difference in North Carolina's Future:

Uriah WardMeet 18-year old Uriah Ward, our Democracy Hero for March and April of 2010! Uriah is a student at J.H. Rose High in Greenville. He heard about Youth Pre-Registration last fall while attending a Dem NC-sponsored candidate forum, took the time to learn more and, when the bill became law this year, went to work with other members of his school's Green Party club to register nearly 130 new voters in just a few weeks by manning a table in his school's cafeteria. He's now revised his goal upward to 150 soon-to-be new voters and will be heading into classrooms next to educate his fellow students on their registration opportunities.

March 18, 2010:

Dear Advocates,

We have heard from many supporters who are discouraged about the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling. They're wondering who our government really represents -- or if money trumps all. We cannot afford for people to lose hope. We cannot let this ruling cause voters to grow even more cynical or drive young people away from politics entirely. Silence will only further erode the power of the people to have a say in their own government.


 We need your help to make sure your friends, neighbors and co-workers realize that the people of North Carolina can still have a voice, thanks to Voter-Owned Elections.


Five Quick Things You Can Do to Help Us Spread the Word:

Option 1: Invite Us to Speak on VOE 

Invite us to speak about Voter-Owned Elections at meetings of groups you belong to, or request a PowerPoint presentation so you can spread the word on your own. Our presentation includes an explanation of the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling, what it means to people and groups, and why we think Voter-Owned Elections are a good way to help fight special interest money in the electoral process and policy debate. In the meantime, if you would like to know more about the Citizens United ruling, including what elected officials on the state and federal level are doing in response to it, you can download this useful summary.


Option 2: Join our MAD Skills Group

Write a letter to the editor or post to blogs about the connection between the recent Supreme Court ruling and Voter-Owned Elections. We've made it easy for you: We've got complete letters, talking points, cures for writer's block, lists of media outlets and a personal writing coach standing by to help you. Volunteer now.


Option 3: Make VOE an Issue at Candidate Forums

Primary debates are coming up, meaning now's a great time to speak up and ask candidates where they stand on Voter-Owned Elections. Email us for a hand-out that includes an overview of pending VOE legislation in NC and suggestions on questions that you can ask candidates.


Option 4: Speak Up for FENA
We are pleased to announce that Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-1) has joined the ranks of NC Congressmen advocating for the federal Fair Elections Now Act. Thanks to those of you who wrote or called him in support! If you'd like to thank him, you can reach Rep. Butterfield at 252.237.9816 in Wilson or 202.225.3101 in Washington, DC. But we still have a few critical representatives we need to get on board. If you are in one of the following districts, please call your Rep. in support of FENA:


Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-2): 919.829.9122 in Raleigh or 202.225.4531

Rep. Howard Coble (R-6): 336.333.5005 in Greensboro or 202.225.3065

Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-7): 910.815.4959 in Wilmington or 202.225.2731

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-11): 828.252.1651 in Asheville or 202.225.6401


Option 5: Financially Support Our Education and Advocacy Efforts
If you're as concerned as we are about Citizens United but have no time to spare, you can still make a difference by donating toward our education and advocacy efforts. We've got some great ideas about how  people can fight the effects of this ruling, but we'll need your help to advance our ideas, inspire people and win needed reforms. You can donate on-line or call Becky Carver at 919.286.6000, Ext. 12 to earmark your donation for specific activities.


By the way, don't forget to sign our petition if you haven't already, and send your friends there, too. It will help us create an easy-to-mobilize corps of supporters for when the time comes to pass more Voter-Owned Elections legislation in our state.


Together, we will be heard. North Carolina belongs to the people.


January 22, 2010:


Dear Advocate,


By now, you've heard plenty about the Supreme Court United Citizens case ruling rejecting limits on the amount of money corporations can funnel into political campaigns.

Is this ruling as important as people say? Will it really affect your life?
The short answer: yes and yes. Corporations already wield too much influence over policy on the state and federal levels. Special interest money is driving the debate on virtually every important issue that comes before lawmakers, including healthcare, financial regulation, energy policy and more. The Citizens United ruling makes it even easier for special interests to buy overwhelming media exposure for their candidates -- essentially buying victory and gaining control over policies that directly affect your well-being. In short, it opens up elections to the highest bidder and puts our government policies on the auction block.

What can you do about it? We can change the system.


This ruling makes it very difficult to restrict the flow of money in politics (which the Court equates with freedom of speech). But it does not stop us from creating another flow of money, one that frees candidates from having to depend on special interests.


Help us pass pending Voter-Owned Elections legislation on the state and federal levels

to give candidates access to alternate sources of campaign funds.


These programs are voluntary, they have repeatedly been upheld as constitutional by the courts and they require participants to show they are viable candidates by raising money from small donors before they qualify. And they have been proven to dramatically reduce the role that special interest money plays in elections. 

Take action now:

Sign our petition to pass the Fair Elections Now Act in Congress and expand public campaign financing options in North Carolina. THEN FORWARD THIS EMAIL to everyone you know who is concerned about this Supreme Court ruling. When they sign the petition, we will put them on our action list and send them ideas on what they can do to ensure that the people of America have as much say in who gets elected as corporations with huge war chests.  


In the meantime, if you find yourself overwhelmed with information on this ruling, remember:


This is still a democracy. We, the people, still have the ultimate power.

Let's use it. Together, we can and will make sure our government represents us all.

December 14, 2009:

Dear Democracy NC Supporters, 

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to Democracy North Carolina in 2009!


Holly berries If you're still searching for just the right gift for those on your holiday list who have material possessions to spare, why not give the gift of good government this year by making a donation to Democracy NC  in honor of a friend or loved one? Click here to donate by credit card. It only takes a moment and once you have entered in a name, you'll be given the option to have a card send directly to your honoree. If you prefer to donate by check, please mail it to Democracy NC, 1821 Green St., Durham, NC 27705 and remember to include the name and address of your honoree. 


We're Making Progress, Thanks to You

We are pleased to report that three polls in a single month showed that 1) most North Carolinians believe there's too much corruption in state politics and 2) a bipartisan majority of voters believe changing the campaign financing system would be an effective way to address the pressures that lead to this corruption. If you'd like more information:

Rising support for campaign finance reform shows that we are making real progress toward reclaiming ownership of our government from North Carolina's powerful special interests. We are grateful indeed to the many democracy defenders who have already donated this year, making our work possible. We could not do our research, grassroots organizing, voter education and outreach or policy reform work without help from a statewide community of concerned citizens. If you have not yet given this year, please click here to donate on-line or to learn more about how you can support our work


Thanks again for your generosity!


Becky Carver,

Director of Development

Democracy North Carolina


November 21, 2009:

We'd like to take this opportunity to say thanks

This newsletter comes to you with hopes you had a wonderful Thanksgiving -- and with a special thank you from all of us here at Democracy North Carolina. It's been a tough year on many levels, yet we find ourselves grateful for so many things:

  • We are grateful to live in a true democracy, where we have the right to speak up and make that democracy even stronger. We are especially grateful when we look around the world and see so many others struggling just to be heard. Thank you for helping us protect that right.

  • We are grateful that so many of you share our determination to create a government of, for and by the people, despite your many pressing daily priorities. Thank you for paying attention.

  • We are grateful that there are good people leading our government, people with both the integrity and the courage to take on those who misuse their power for personal gain. Thank you for recognizing that public service must be built on a desire to serve the public good.

  • We are grateful for all the support you give us, whether it takes the form of a financial contribution or a willingness to advocate for our goals. Thank you for making our work possible.

We hope you share in our optimism and will continue to join us in making North Carolina an even better place to live in 2010.


Help us pass on a special thanks

We are also thankful for the four NC Congressmen who have signed on as co-sponsors of HR-1826, the Fair Elections Now Act, a bill to provide optional public campaign financing for congressional candidates. If you see your representative below, can you take a moment to write or call him and thank him for his support of FENA? With all the negative pressure used in politics today, we think some positive feedback would be a welcome change:


We are now accepting applications for Democracy Summer 2010  

Did you have any college students joining you around your table this Thanksgiving? Don't let them return to school without letting them know that Democracy North Carolina is now accepting applications for our 2010 Democracy Summer internship program. Our 2010 interns will work in 2-person teams located in Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville and Winston-Salem. Under the direction of our field organizers, they will inspire others to take part in the political process and advocate for electoral policies that put the people of North Carolina first. Interns will receive a $2,300 stipend and learn about voting rights, election law, money in politics, activism techniques and interpersonal skills critical to successful community organizing. The ideal applicant will have a commitment to social and economic justice, be able to communicate with diverse groups of people, have a general understanding of politics and possess strong public speaking skills. Candidates should visit our website for a downloadable application and details.


Ending the year with an appeal...

As many of you know, we are in the midst of our annual fundraising campaign. Thanks so much to those of you who have already sent in checks! If you haven't had the time to give yet, please keep in mind that contributions to Democracy North Carolina are tax-deductible for 2009 if they are made by December 31st. They are also all very much appreciated. Click here to donate on-line or to learn more about how you can support our work.

Sincerely, Katy Munger,

Communications Director

Democracy North Carolina


November 2, 2009:


Dear Democracy NC Advocates,
When a politician cheats or steals, the media loves to play "gotcha" and the public is outraged. But what if the rules of the campaign system invite a candidate to cheat and lie in order to win election?

Will the media and public demand that the system change? And will they praise the politician who acts ethically and still wins? Why don't politicians like House Speaker Joe Hackney or state Treasurer Janet Cowell get more kudos for their leadership on ethics and efforts to reform the campaign finance system?  It's easy to criticize, but so much harder to take responsibility for fixing the problem.

Earlier this year, The News & Observer identified a number of travel-related donations the Mike Easley Committee failed to report and the State Board of Elections began investigating the Committee.  In July, Democracy North Carolina provided additional information and urged the State Board of Elections to investigate if the NC Democratic Party was "being used by a candidate as a conduit to launder earmarked donations that would be illegal if they were given directly to that candidate."

We acted because cheating in politics hurts voters and the good candidates who abide by the law.

On Friday, the State Board of Elections found that earmarking had occurred. By a unanimous vote, the Board ordered the Democratic Party to forfeit the $9,000 involved in two earmarked donations and, more importantly, sent an important message that it is illegal for a candidate to use a political party to conduit a donor's funds back to the candidate's campaign, particularly when the donor, candidate and party conspire together to evade the normal contribution limits for a candidate. We commend the Board for taking this action.  

The Board took a cautious approach in reaching its decision. Memos, detailed strategy plans, emails, ledger sheets, and other documents revealed that a specific "Governor's Fund" had been set up within the Democratic Party to receive and spend money raised for the Mike Easley campaign, but most witnesses could not recall or simply denied any earmarking occurred. The Board focused its penalty on two donors who admitted they knew their checks to the party were really for the Easley campaign.

The Board also voted to impose a $100,000 fine on the Mike Easley Committee and to refer former Governor Easley "and others" involved in the hearing to the district attorney.  It's a sad day when evidence justifies referring a governor for criminal investigation, but it's in the best interest of the public and of the thousands of candidates who are acting properly for the State Board to make it clear that no one is above the law. In another unanimous vote, the Board recommended that the General Assembly amend state law to require the candidate to personally bear the cost of fines imposed as a result of election law violations if the candidate's campaign committee is too broke to pay. Again, the Board sends a strong message that candidates must be held accountable for the conduct of their campaign. 

After sitting through the hearings, I've been wondering about what to do with good and bad politicians:
  • We need, and all candidates need, the protection of strong laws, fairly enforced, to weed out the cheaters and hold everyone accountable. But no set of regulations can prevent immoral candidates and their consultants from using loopholes to channel large amounts of private money into a campaign. More regulation alone won't produce better public officials.
  • We need more candidates with the personal moral strength to withstand the temptations and pressures of raising large amounts of private money for their campaigns. As the costs climb and the campaign's consultants devise new methods to skirt the law, fewer candidates can hold on to their core values. How can we help them?
  • We need to provide honorable candidates with an alternative campaign system that helps them stay focused on serving the public, rather than become preoccupied with soliciting the next $4,000 or $50,000 check from a donor with a selfish agenda.  The voluntary public financing program for some candidates in North Carolina and in other states provides that alternative, because it rewards candidates who raise small donations and reject large donations with a public grant to run their campaign under strict rules.
  • We need to tell good candidates and public officials that we appreciate their service. We hurt ourselves by not noticing who is doing a good job or by stereotyping all politicians as corrupt. Good government requires many solid leaders and participation by all of us. 

What do you think? Please send me your comments and let me know your thoughts on how we can turn this sad situation for North Carolina into a step toward positive electoral reform.

Bob Hall, Director
Democracy North Carolina


October 2009:

It's been a busy autumn thus far for Democracy North Carolina, what with local elections, the healthcare debate, utility rate hearings, on-going efforts for campaign finance reform and staff changes. Read on for details plus announcements of a few opportunities you may be interested in.

Introducing our Newest Organizer

Linda SuttonWe are very pleased to announce that Linda Sutton has joined our staff as organizer for the Triad area. Some of you may be familiar with Linda from her work as a past Board member for Democracy NC. Linda has been active in the Winston-Salem community since the early 70's, working as a leader in her church and union, and as a Special Voter Registration Commissioner. She now serves as chair of the Forsyth County Board of Elections. She also co-founded the Winston-Salem Voting Rights Coalition, a grassroots, non-partisan organization that has registered thousands of voters and engaged them in advocating for early voting, same day registration and campaign finance reform. Linda will be based in Winston-Salem and work in Forsyth, Guilford, Davidson, Davie and surrounding counties. She can be reached at (336) 703-0695.

Shaunee MorganIn addition to Linda, we are extremely fortunate this year to have an intern on board from the UNC School of Social Work. Shaunee Morgan hit the ground running and has already represented us at the recent statewide NAACP convention in Hickory, penned an excellent opinion piece on local public campaign finance that was printed in the Chapel Hill News and is playing an integral role in our ex-felon re-enfranchisement and census outreach efforts. We're very pleased to have Shaunee with us for the entire academic year as she works toward her MSW. She can be reached at (919) 286-6000, Ext. 14.


Two Farewells

Democracy NC recently bid two organizers good-bye: Jonathan Peterson (organizer for the Triad area) and Tia Stanley (organizer for the Greenville area) both left us in early August to attend law school. Jonathan is now hitting the books at William & Mary, while Tia is at North Carolina Central. We feel fortunate to have had them on board during the busy 2008 election season and wish them luck in the future. Jonathan and Tia are just two of the many young leaders we have helped develop for our state -- and we are proud to have played a part in what we know will be outstanding careers for them both.


Eastern NC Organizer Position Open

Democracy NC is currently seeking a field organizer to work in Greenville, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Tarboro and parts of Northeastern NC. This organizer will  mobilize and train citizen activists, work with the media, plan events, supervise and canvass with summer organizers, and build coalitions with local organizations. The job is a full-time salaried position with health benefits.  Please click here for complete information.


Calling All Scribes

Are you ready for your voice to be heard? Would you like to learn how to become a more effective advocate for the issues you believe in? Democracy NC is starting a special group for Advocates who are interested in honing their letter-to-the-editor skills and other media outreach strengths. If you sign up, you will receive a kit and on-going information on writing better letters to the editor, messaging on our core issues and ideas on getting the word out about our top concerns. All training will be conducted via email or internet, meaning you can live anywhere in the state and take part. We are particularly interested in hearing from Advocates who live in the Western and Northeast parts of the state, rural communities and other areas where we do not have a local coalition nearby. If you are interested in joining this group, please contact and we'll add you to the list of the few, the proud and the willing.

Encouraging Citizen Involvement

As you may be aware, in recent months Democracy NC has co-sponsored workshops on citizen involvement in the on-going healthcare and utility rate hike debates. These issue areas were chosen not because we are taking a particular stance on them but because they are areas of uncommon interest to our Advocates and we believe very strongly in the concept of public input into public policy. We have also been encouraging people to attend hearings and other meetings on these matters in order to voice their opinions on them. These efforts are all part of our determination to ensure that policy debate in North Carolina is not dominated by special interests and that ordinary people have a say in how policy is decided. In fact, we believe that including citizens in policy debate is the only way to build a government that is truly of the people, for the people and by the people of NC. If you would like more information on our citizen advocacy training, please contact our Organizing Director Adam Sotak at

Federal Campaign Finance Reform Moves Forward

We are pleased to report that NC Congressional representatives David Price (D) and Brad Miller (D) have joined Walter Jones (R) in co-sponsoring the Fair Elections Now Act (HR-1826), a House bill that would create a public campaign financing option for Congressional candidates. Price and Miller committed after receiving numerous phone calls and emails from our Advocates and we are grateful to those of you who took action on this key issue. As the current policy debates on healthcare, energy, financial regulation and other key areas show: Until we find a way to fundamentally change the system, we are going to find ourselves in the position of continually having to fix bad policies shaped by special interests rather than a concern for the public good. FENA is a good step forward in changing the system. By the way, it's not too late for other NC Congressional reps to co-sponsor HR-1826. Contact yours if you would like to see him or her join the growing list of FENA sponsors.

Don't Forget to Vote!

Early Voting has opened for the November 3rd General Election and we urge all of you to weigh in on your local races by heading to the ballot box. Primary turnout was dismal, yet the people we elect this year will have a profound effect on the quality of life in our local communities. For more information on how, when and where you can vote early, please contact your local board of elections. Click on the county's name to connect to the local election board's website, where you will find information about Early Voting locations, a list of candidates, and perhaps a sample ballot. 

Greenville GOTV Coalition Update
October 13, 2009


Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Democracy North Carolina, and the Greenville GOTV Coalition hosted a successful Greenville candidate forum on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at City Hall. The event was well attended and candidates were asked questions related to crime, affordable housing, and diversity, among other things. Thanks to Delta Sigma Theta and all the candidates and volunteers that made the forum a success!

Free GOTV Flyers

There are still GOTV (Get Out the Vote) flyers available for pick-up and distribution at Burton Family Dental on Arlington Blvd. These small flyers make great church bulletin inserts or are great for handing out at local events. The flyers have information on Pitt county early voting locations and times. They also provide voting rights information and tips for using same-day voter registration.

Early voting for all Pitt county municipal elections begins this Thursday. You can view the early voting schedule on the Pitt County Board of Elections website: Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. The polls will be open from 6:30am - 7:30pm.

Greenville Voter Guide

UNC-TV and the N.C. Center for Voter Education have teamed up to create an online voter guide for candidates in 11 municipalities across N.C. Greenville candidate bios and website links can be found at: Please spread the word about this valuable resource!

New Greensboro voter guides and upcoming candidate forum
October 6, 2009


It's that time of year again - election time. There's no historic Presidential or U.S. Senate race on the ballot this year BUT there are crucial elections for Mayor and City Council (Oct. 6 Primary, Nov. 3 General) that will determine the future of Greensboro for years to come. That's why the Guilford Unity Effort, with help from Democracy NC and YES! Weekly, has developed Greensboro 2009: Guide for the City Elections. This free guide contains great information on the candidates, provides important early voting and voting rights information, and lists upcoming candidate forums.

This printed guide is a great, non-partisan resource that you can distribute to your neighbors, places of worship, workplaces, and at other public events and locations. Please contact Sharon Hightower at 336-508-5346 or to order copies of the guide today. We have 20,000 for distribution throughout Greensboro so your help is welcome!

Also, the Guilford County Unity Effort invites you to an important Greensboro candidate forum next Tuesday.

Options for Health Care and Campaign Finance Reform
August 2009:


The fight about health insurance reform is red hot, but where's the light shining on core truths about what it is, what it is not, and what it should be?

On Saturday, August 29, the statewide H K on J coalition, led by the NC NAACP, is co-sponsoring a statewide day of action in several NC cities to explain and support the advantages of universal health coverage and a "public option" insurance program.  

Democracy NC is a partner of the H K on J coalition, and our research has demonstrated the link between Congressional votes on health reform and campaign contributions.  Our report shows not only how campaign money affects the health care debate, but also why a "public option" for federal campaign financing is crucial if we want more members of Congress to focus on the needs of ordinary people.

Here are actions that you can take - a few "options" for you to be involved!

* Attend one of Saturday's events.  Click here for the details of events on Saturday in Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville and Greenville. We hope to have advocates there collecting signatures in support of the federal Fair Elections Now Act, so look for us!

* Help spread the word by forwarding this information via email, Facebook, Twitter, flyers, etc.  Bring someone with you to an event.

* Sign a petition/letter to your member of Congress in favor of a public campaign alternative for Congressional elections (HR-1826, the Fair Elections Now Act).


Advocate News
August 18, 2009


It's been a busy summer!  Here's an update on some important victories and other news:

New Health Care Report

Recent news has been dominated by the health care debate. Last week, we released a timely report about the $5.2 million raised by NC members of Congress from donors connected to the health care and insurance industries. The report describes the leading recipients of this money and their votes on past bills, particularly related to the pharmaceutical industry. As you might expect, "follow the money" is good advice for understanding the challenges facing health insurance reform. Be sure to read to the end of the report for the link between drug money, healthcare policy, and campaign finance reform.

Progress on Council of State Voter-Owned Elections

In a final 29-17 vote, the NC Senate approved a bill to expand the successful public campaign financing program for the State Auditor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Commissioner of Insurance.  The bill adds the office of the State Treasurer and creates a dedicated source of money for the program from small fees on investment managers and insurance agents. The bill will be taken up by the state House in 2010. "Public financing is a proven reform that gives voters more control over government, makes public officials more accountable to constituents and levels the playing field," State Treasurer Janet Cowell said. "It also allows for greater transparency and avoids the appearance of conflicts of interest." Read more at

Landmark Legislation: Pre-Register to Vote at Age 16

A bipartisan bill adopted by the General Assembly could add thousands of young people to the voter rolls and boost voter education and voter turnout in NC. The bill allows 16 and 17 year olds to fill out a pre-registration form, particularly when they take the required civics course in the tenth grade or sign up for a driver's license. When the teenager reaches voting age, he or she will be automatically registered and the board of elections will verify the information on the form following the same process used for all first-time voters. The ratified bill also requires county boards of elections to conduct registration drives at high schools each year, and it broadens existing requirements for teaching students about the voting process.

Democracy Summer 2009

This summer marked the 10th anniversary of our Democracy Summer program, and this year's class was exceptional! Ten students worked in pairs in five cities: Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Greenville. We set ambitious goals and the student organizers worked hard to meet them. In just 9 weeks, they:  

  • Contacted 10,000 Democracy NC supporters and frequent voters in support of campaign finance reform legislation;

  • Generated over 1,000 phone calls, 500 emails, and 400 handwritten post cards to NC legislators in support of Voter Owned Elections;

  • Spoke to 40 civic groups about our work and met one-on-one or in small groups with over 80 Democracy Advocates, community leaders and elected officials;

  • Earned 10 media hits (TV, radio, news articles, letters to editor) for reform;

  • Completed 2 research projects: One examined the campaign donations of political appointees and the other mapped youth-service groups in 5 counties, which will help us implement the new pre-registration law for teenagers.

  • Hosted 11 house parties and donor meetings to help raise funds for Democracy Summer and other Dem-NC work

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News Coverage



Excerpt from an article published on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 by Herbert L. White, The Charlotte Post:

Sarah Norris and America Allen spent their summer learning first-hand how grassroots politics works.

The UNC Chapel Hill students spent two months in the Democracy Summer program sponsored by Democracy North Carolina, a non-partisan political advocacy group.

Norris, 19, and Allen, 20, worked on a project advocating for public financing of N.C. elections and legislation that would pre-register teens to vote.

“I saw it as a way to familiarize myself with the political process,” said Norris, a sophomore political science major and graduate of Parkwood High School in Monroe. “Something like this would be a potential job opportunity for me after school as far as what goes into policy-making.”

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