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From left, Elena Everett of Durham and Joe Wrenn, an ASU student, stand outside the Boone 2 polling place at Legends as part of the N.C. Vote Defenders group. Anna Oakes | Watauga Democrat.

Originally published: 2013-11-05 14:43:44
Last modified: 2013-11-05 16:06:05

N.C. Vote Defenders present at polls

Among those congregating at the polls today in Watauga County is a group called the N.C. Vote Defenders.

The "Vote Defenders" are sporting bright orange vests outside Watauga County poll sites to distribute information about election laws and upcoming changes and to document any incidents where voters have trouble casting a ballot, according to a press release.

The group monitored polls in Wake and Pasquotank counties in October and is present in Watauga and Mecklenburg counties today.

The group identifies itself as nonpartisan project started by young people to raise awareness of changing voting laws, but the press release refers to the state's recent voting law changes as a "Monster Voting Law, which has been described as the worst set of voter suppression laws in the country."

"We want to make sure that anyone who wants to vote, can," said Jessica Injejikian, a student organizer with the Vote Defender Project, in a statement. "There's a lot of confusion out there, particularly around the voter ID changes. ...  By handing out information and having a dialog with people, we will work to build a movement of engaged voters who refuse to let their voices be silenced and will protect and defend their right to the ballot box -- despite the slew of new laws making it more difficult for people to vote."

Luke Eggers, chairman of the Watauga County Board of Elections, said Tuesday that although the group holds signs and "looks official," any voting problems or difficulties should be reported to the Board of Elections at (828) 265-8061 -- not just to this group.

"They're not affiliated with the Board of Elections, and if any voting issue does arise, (voters) need to call the Board of Elections office," Eggers said.

The polls close at 7:30 p.m. today.