On Oct. 8, the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) will be holding a Rock the Vote event, in which they will go out into the Westmoreland neighborhood to get community members registered to vote.
The CCECC is a grant funded center by the Danville Regional Foundation, in which they are the hub for promoting community engagement initiatives, service learning and career development to three schools in the region, Averett University, Danville Community College and Piedmont Community College. To executive director Dr. Billy Wooten, this event is a part of the larger community engagement mission.
After serving on city council in his former city Berea, Kentucky, Wooten says he saw that few people were engaged in the voting process.
“In some instances, they didn’t even know they had the right to vote or how to register to vote,” Wooten said. “They weren’t doing research for whom to vote.”
At an experimental registration event there, Wooten said it was widely successful, with a 42% increase in voter registration.
When looking at the statistics for Danville, Wooten realized that only one in 23 people ages 18-25 actually voted, when the national average in one in five for that age range.
“I thought we had to do something,” Wooten said. “I know how to do this event. Let’s bring it to Danville and see if it is successful and luckily, the community has really been on board.”
The CCECC has partnered with the Westmoreland Neighborhood Organization to hold their nonpartisan event, and their targets are college students and the disenfranchised youth in the city. However, everyone is welcome to come to enjoy the free food, live music, games and more.
“We want to energize Danville and try to raise that statistic from 1 in 23, but also show our youth that they need to vote and why it’s important for them to vote,” Wooten said.
At the event, they will have people walking around with voter registration forms on clipboards.
“I think people think it takes so long or it’s so complicated to register to vote,” April Love-Loveless, AmeriCorps VISTA working in the CCECC, said. “Actually, you just fill out a two section sheet, and we send it in for you. They will mail you your voting precinct. It’s just so easy.”
Politicians have also been invited to speak at the event. Danville mayor Alonzo Jones and vice mayor Lee Vogler will be in attendance, and all city council members have been invited. An invitation has also been extended to Senate candidates Corey Stewart, Tim Kaine and Matt Waters.
“That way people can register to vote but they can also hear some of the platform issues,” Wooten said.
Until Oct. 9, the CCECC will have voter registration drives twice a week on Averett and DCC campuses to register students to vote.
“Just in the two days we’ve had one, we’ve registered 30 new voters already, so we can only imagine what the city is going to come with,” Wooten said.
The CCECC has gotten two sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta on board to help. There will be shuttles for residents of DRHA sites to the Westmoreland neighborhood to take part in the festivities. They are also looking for volunteers to assist with various roles. Those interested can visit serve365.org to see the volunteer options available.
With this event, Wooten wants people to know its sole purpose get people more civically engaged, and not to push any type of agenda.
“We’re just trying to get people to vote,” Wooten said. “That’s the only goal for this.”
The CCECC’s Rock the Vote event will be held on Oct. 8 at the Westmoreland neighborhood community field from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on this event, contact Billy Wooten at email@example.com or (434) 791-7212.