• Voter Participation Center targeting underrepresented groups to boost midterm election turnout

    By: Kristin Leigh


    MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - North Carolina residents are calling election officials about forms flooding their mailboxes from the Voter Participation Center in Washington.

    [2018 midterm elections: Key races, when to vote, what to bring in NC]

    VPC said it has sent more than 700,000 letters in the mail encouraging people to register to vote in the midterms.

    Channel 9 reported the increase in registered voters in the Charlotte area for this year's midterms compared to the presidential election years ago.

    [RELATED: New voter registration numbers highlight Charlotte's growing political impact]

    Eyewitness News anchor Kristin Leigh talked to election officials about how the group is contributing to the uptick.

    People in several area counties, including Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Rowan, are receiving mail from VPC.

    [RELATED: Heated local races help boost turnout in North Carolina]

    The director of elections for Mecklenburg County, Michael Dickerson, told Channel 9 he is receiving calls from people who are skeptical about the voter registration forms.

    “A guy called and said, ‘Hey, my wife and daughter got this, but I didn't get one in mine',” said Dickerson and Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer, added that's no accident.

    Election officials said the organization identifies as nonpartisan, but it targets minorities, single women and millennials.

    “To be very specific, to be very targeting has become more and more the norm in campaign strategy," said Bitzer.

    After Leigh showed Bitzer the letter, he said there's a clear effort to mobilize left-leaning voters who tend to skip midterm elections.

    [RELATED: Voter registration extension sought in flooded South Carolina]

    “Republicans tend to have an advantage in midterm elections, so it may actually balance out between the two,” said Bitzer.

    Despite the politics, Dickerson praised VPC’s efforts to encourage voting because he said the group helps election officials keep voter information up to date.

    “Anytime anybody does anything that helps us clean the record and scrub data, that's great with us," he said.

    For more information about the 2018 midterm elections, see:

    VPC told Channel 9 single women, people of color and millennials are statistically less likely to vote in midterm elections than other demographics, therefore their voices are underrepresented at the polls.

    Mecklenburg County early voting starts Wednesday at 7 a.m.

    All 19 early voting sites will be open for the entire early voting period, which is different from previous years.

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