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National Voter Registration Day!

Barbers at New Haircare Barbershop on East Market Street provided free haircuts to those who registered to vote on Tuesday. Photos by Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker.

Crowds of college students gathered to register to vote on National Voter Registration Day.

On Tuesday, September 25, NextGen North Carolina spent the day registering young Americans to vote on four campuses across the state — N.C. A&T State University, University of North Carolina Greensboro, High Point University and Catawba College — in celebration of National Voter Registration Day.

Mekwan Battle registers to vote. Photo by Charles Edgerton/Carolina Peacemaker
NextGen NC is a chapter under NextGen America, a national organization that mobilizes the youth to address issues like immigrant rights, affordable health care, social justice and climate change, at the ballot box.

NextGen leaders say the goal was to register 535 new young voters while engaging students at events such as “The Vote Is Right with NextGen” on Catawba College’s campus and the “T.R.A.P. (Talented Relentless Ambitious People) Voting with NextGen North Carolina” event held at UNDRGround Apparel, a clothing store located across from N.C. A&T State University’s campus on East Market Street. Participants were able to register to vote, and then enjoy free pizza and a haircut at the event provided by New Haircare Barbershop.

Mekwan Battle, owner of UNDRGround Apparel got re-registered to vote on Tuesday.

“I tell people, ‘you can’t complain about the laws if you aren’t voting on them or who is supposed to be representing us. You don’t vote, you don’t have a say,’” said Battle.

NextGen North Carolina is working to register, engage, and organize young voters across the state to flip Congressional Districts 9 and 13, elect Democrats to the state Senate, defend the executive powers of Governor Roy Cooper and oppose gerrymandering. The most recent judgement on gerrymandering was rendered in August from a panel of three federal judges, who ruled that North Carolina’s congressional district maps were unconstitutional. Congressional Districts 9 and 13 currently split voters on the campus of N.C. A&T.

Currently, NextGen North Carolina has already registered 400 voters at N.C. A&T and Bennett College and more than 4,700 young North Carolinians total to vote this year.

Volunteer Carmesha Blackmon, a freshwoman Media Studies major at Bennett College, said she was hoping to get more students interested in not just voting, but also being aware of what their representatives are doing while in office.

“It’s time for our generation to get involved,” said Blackmon.

Tequan Powell, a senior Social Work major at A&T noted he was looking forward to voting for the first time in November’s midterm elections.

“I’ve been learning about what is going to be on the ballot and I feel I need to let my voice be heard. I believe, a lot of times students don’t believe that their vote will make a difference. But it matters. Voting now is important because we are the ones who are going to have an impact on future generations,” said Powell.

To vote in the 2018 General Election in North Carolina, voter registration must be in the mail by October 12. You can also register in person during the early voting period from October 17 - November 2.