Democracy North Carolina intern registers voters at Faith Fourth
By Sara Gregory
FAITH ó It takes only a couple of minutes for Christina Anderson to convince Paul Davis to register to vote.
It won’t make a difference, he insists. Big money controls politics. My vote doesn’t matter. I’m an ex-felon.
Anderson counters all of that with a persistent pitch for why voting matters and how he’s still eligible.
“You can’t accomplish anything if you’re just complaining and don’t vote,” she says.
Davis takes the pen and voter registration form and fills it out. Anderson grins.
“She talked me into it,” Davis says. “I don’t think it’s gonna help, but I’m gonna give it a try.”
Anderson is an intern with Democracy North Carolina and is working in Rowan County and throughout the state advocating for voter rights. Wednesday, she registered voters at the Faith Fourth festival.
A West Rowan High School graduate and a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill, Anderson says knowing the area she’s working in has helped. She thinks her age makes it easier for people to relate to her and the message she’s trying to spread.
Anderson is a registered Democrat, but says working for the nonpartisan group has made her appreciate the debate from both liberal and conservative camps. Debate at least shows people care.
“This has actually let me challenge my own views to see ‘this is what I agree with,” or ‘this is what I don’t,'” Anderson says.
People constantly mistake the group for representing the Democratic Party, she says. But Democracy NC doesn’t take sides and concerns itself with the election process and making sure it’s fair.
“We want to make sure people are aware of their rights,” organizer Jonathan Peterson says. “Most people are for that.”When people ask the difference between a Democrat and democracy, as one man did Wednesday night, Anderson politely explains.
“Democracy means that we are a country run by the citizens,” she tells him, adding that she doesn’t even want to start to explain what the Democratic Party stands for.
“It really has surprised me how many people don’t know what democracy means,” she says.
For Anderson, it means empowering voters.
She’s helped with voter drives this summer at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s open house and aa recent Juneteenth celebration. She’s talked with state representatives about campaign finance reform.Anderson wants to talk with local prison inmates and explain how they can vote. In North Carolina, ex-felons can vote after they’ve served their sentences.
The problem is, many ex-felons don’t know that, she says, and she spends much of her time educating people about their rights.
And it’s still important to persuade the apathetic to why they should care, she says.
“They don’t understand so they don’t care,” Anderson says. “People fail to realize that they can make a difference.”When you break it down, they realize it’s simple.”