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    ‘Tracy Leatherberry’

    Updates from the field

    Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

    As early polling numbers start trickling in this afternoon, our Rock the Vote field teams report that young people around the country are excited to raise their voices today in the midterm elections.

    In Philadelphia on the University of Pennsylvania campus this morning, 19-year-old Jill told RTV Field Director Eric Zoberman that this election is critical in the wake of 2008’s historic experience.

    “It was great to see so many young people involved in 2008, but without that level of enthusiasm, it is even more my responsibility to stay engaged and vote,” she said.

    It’s still early in the day, but we are optimistic that many of the 300,000 people who downloaded our registration forms this year will hit the polls. In the last midterm election in 2006, we registered 50,000 people, so we’re excited to see the outcome of that increase in participation as the results are announced.

    Some cool things are already in motion this Election Day. If you’re like us at RTV Headquarters, we’re all enjoying watching our friends announce that they’ve voted and contribute to the massive tally on Facebook, which is increasing by the minute (It’s at more than 4 million voters as of 2pm EDT!). Some of us are also checking in on Foursquare, unlocking the “I Voted” badge RTV collaborated with other groups to create for today.

    On the ground, young people are experiencing some early victories. RTV North Carolina State Coordinator Tracy Leatherberry reports that in many precincts, we’ve already surpassed our 2006 midterm turnout. In Gainesville, FLA, Deputy Field Director Annie Lorenzana has a large crowd of young people gathered at her University of Florida polling place casting ballots. State Coordinator Rob Abraham is on the Ohio State University campus where enthusiastic students are gathered at The Union to vote.

    If you’ve already voted, encourage your friends to vote too! Send them a link to our “Vote Fearlessly” video with Nick Cannon, Casey Affleck, Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Walsh and other stars.

    Stay tuned this afternoon for more updates. We’ll be back with the latest news from our people on the ground, as well as analysis of the results as they are available.

    Tom Yarnell
    Bio: Tom is a former Rock the Vote communications team member who now works for an intellectual property law firm in DC. He loves sports and coming back to blog for RTV!
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Ball With Us

    Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

    Dubbed the “Rucker of the South” the SJG Greater North Carolina Pro-AM basketball league is the premiere venue for showcasing some of today’s top basketball talent. In its third summer season, the league boasts players like Josh Powell of the Atlanta Hawks, Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets, and seasoned NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse. Come ball with Rock the Vote at the Pro-AM this Thursday from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. and on August 8 for the tournament’s championship game while we register people to vote and collect pledges to vote in the upcoming midterm election! The games take place at North Carolina Central University in the McLendon-McDougald Gymnasium. Click here to RSVP!

    After making sure you’re ready to vote, you’re in for a real show on the court. Each year this league hosts an awesome mix of professional athletes, collegiate players and high school all-stars on Greater NC Pro-AM teams. Along with amazing displays of sportsmanship and athleticism, the Greater NC Pro-AM provides grassroots mentoring from professional athletes to local high school and college athletes.  In addition, the league welcomes local nonprofits to engage attendees and to help them get active in their own communities.

    Follow this link for the schedules and more information for the SJG Greater NC Pro-AM.

    PICTURED: Charlotte Bobcats Assistant Coach Phil Ford pledges to vote this November 2 with the help of Rock the Vote State Coordinator Tracy Leatherberry. Ford played college ball at the University of North Carolina and helped USA Basketball win a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics.

    Bio: Tracy is an organizer for Common Cause. She led Rock the Vote's field team in North Carolina during the 2010 midterm election cycle, and appears as a guest blogger.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    My First Trip To Democracy Class

    Thursday, June 24th, 2010

    Last month I had the opportunity to go into a North Carolina classroom to teach civics. Gets your heart racing, doesn’t it?

    If you are in high school today, you may not get civics education. Over the past 30 years, civics education has been systematically cut from public schools. Opportunities to learn about politics and government are rare and programs to register newly eligible high school students are not widespread. Rock the Vote is working hard to change that with Democracy Class.

    Very few times in my life have I described anything related to class as “fun.” In my own experience in school, most presentations and campaigns about voter and civic engagement were either boring or downright threatening (Vote or Die anyone?). Democracy Class is different. It is interactive and leaves room for student questions and apprehensions about voting. I have to say that it was, in fact, fun.

    The class presentation that I made gave a quick history on when certain groups gained the right to vote. Students were surprised to learn that 18 year olds didn’t get the right to vote until 1971. I talked about the percentage of young people that voted in the 2000’s and then we talked about the merging of pop culture and politics (a Rock the Vote specialty). We talked about a Nas song with a Tupac sample called “Black President.” In the song Nas raps about some of his apprehensions about finally having a black president of the United States. I played the song for the class and began a discussion about how politics affects music. The class exploded with interpretations of what Nas’ lyrics meant and about how Tupac may have felt in 1996, before the real possibility of a black president actually existed. For the students and for me this was the turning point of the class. It seemed as though the students realized that politics can be interesting and isn’t limited to boring speeches.

    Revved up by a hip hop interlude, I registered some students to vote and then told them that we would be holding a mock election in the class. Students were enthusiastic about volunteering to be a candidate in our mayoral election. Two students volunteered and held a “town hall,” answering questions from classmates on issues ranging from school lunches to taxes. Following the to town hall, candidates gave speeches promising flat rate taxes and cars that ran on Kool-Aid (great alternative to gasoline!).

    Then came the time for the class to vote for a candidate. I handed out ballots and students wrote down their chosen candidate. But right before submitting their votes in the ballot box I barred a quarter of the class from voting because they, in theory, had not registered. Met with groans and shouts of “that’s not fair!” I carried on and counted the votes of the students that had successfully registered. Ultimately the fourth of the class that didn’t vote would have changed the outcome of the election. To me this exercise was so effective in teaching students the importance of voter registration and active voting. They actually felt their voice not being heard, they felt the loss of power that came with not being able to vote. At the end of the class I’m sure that every student not only understood the importance of voting, but also felt the power of their voice and their vote.

    Want to empower some young people in your school? Visit our online hub at democracyclass.com to find out more!

    Bio: Tracy is an organizer for Common Cause. She led Rock the Vote's field team in North Carolina during the 2010 midterm election cycle, and appears as a guest blogger.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    “Filling out a simple form.”

    Monday, June 21st, 2010

    Around the country Rock the Vote is having kick off meetings to start the summer events. North Carolina’s kick-off event is tonight at the Pour House on South Blount St. in Raleigh at 7:00. Anyone in Raleigh should attend because it’s going to be an amazing night of meeting activists, talking about plans and more. In Florida, State Coordinator Blaire Yancy has a nice quote in the Central Florida Future article about the Florida event which also breaks the myths about young voters.

    Here’ s some of Blaire’s quotes from the story.

    Rock the Vote’s Florida State Coordinator Blaire Yancy said  some people don’t register to vote because they’re not in the habit of doing it, though they should be.“Voting is a wonderful right we have in this country, to participate in our democracy,” Yancy said. “One I hope all young people will be a part of it by filling out a simple form.”

    Yancy also added that there’s a misconception that young people don’t vote.

    The 2006 mid-term elections had over 2 million more young voters than the 2002 elections, and that figure has been steadily increasing.

    The meeting and launch party is important for the upcoming elections since it will gather people from the community that share the same goal, Yancy said. They’ll be able to meet each other, form friendships and build volunteer teams.

    Yancy said Florida was chosen as one of the five states for the kick-off events because it has many universities with young people that need to be registered.

    She has already found UCF students to be “engaged and well-informed” on her recent visit to campus.


    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    North Carolina: State Coordinator

    Monday, May 24th, 2010

    Hello! I’m Tracy Leatherberry the new state coordinator from North Carolina. Rock the Vote recently brought on five people to be the on-the-ground representatives for Rock the Vote. I’m in North Carolina, but my co-workers are stationed in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado. You’re going to be hearing from them this week, but first a little about me and if you’re interested in helping or volunteering with Rock the Vote on Tuesday, click this link.

    I have lived in North Carolina all my life.  For 24 years I-40 and I-85 have been my passageways through this amazing and unique state.  Born and raised in Greensboro North Carolina, I developed a profound appreciation for sense of community, volunteerism, education and activism.  Following an engaging adolescence in the piedmont I made my move to the triangle to attend college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.  With a great combination of industry and education, the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area has quickly become the destination for many people, nationwide, to pursue their education and career.

    For the past six years I have lived in this thriving area, surrounded by technology, culture and students from all walks of life.  I’ve loved every minute of seeing North Carolina’s growth and progress in this new millennium and look forward to seeing what else North Carolina has in store.

    Predicting North Carolina’s future, especially politically, will be quite interesting.  Election night 2008 was a page for the history books.  Not only did the US elect its first African American President, but North Carolina bucked conventional wisdom, no longer being thought of as a red state or blue state but instead, a swing state.  For the first time in over 30 years the Tar Heel state wasn’t as predictable as the rest of the nation may have thought.  There were many theories as to why there was a shift in the voting behavior of the state, one of the most fascinating being an increase in the registration and engagement of young voters.  With the 2012 elections fast approaching, political scientists will be watching North Carolina closely, especially during its midterm elections this November.  If, in fact, young voters were the tipping point in the 2008 election, what role will they play in 2010, in 2012?  Will those voters remain engaged in the political process?  If Rock the Vote in North Carolina has anything to do with it, they will.  This summer and fall, Rock the Vote plans to register thousands of voters in North Carolina.  Through voter registration events, concerts and campus street teams Rock the Vote will engage Millennial voters once again and make sure young voices are heard this midterm election.

    Following along in years of Rock the Vote, tradition or merging pop culture with voter engagement, RTV NC will kick off its voter registration efforts this Tuesday at the Lincoln Theater with the band, Mayday Parade.   If you want to be a part of this revolution come out and join us! For more information or to volunteer follow this link!

    Bio: Tracy is an organizer for Common Cause. She led Rock the Vote's field team in North Carolina during the 2010 midterm election cycle, and appears as a guest blogger.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com