Raleigh residents, business owners look to boost voter turnout
Posted September 10, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — As Election Day quickly approaches, some business owners and residents in downtown Raleigh are working to boost voter turnout.
More than 3,200 voter registration forms were dropped at the Wake County's Board of Elections on Thursday afternoon by a group called "Keep Raleigh Vibrant." Group member and bar owner Zack Medford said he wants to push people to show up at the polls.
"This election means a whole lot to a lot of people," he said.
Medford has been a vocal critic of Raleigh's new sidewalk seating curfew that took effect last month. He is worried the move may be the first of many to curb what makes downtown so special.
"People are amped up," he said. "They want to see change in Raleigh. They want to see it continue to grow and become more vibrant."
The target in the voter drive is millennials - the same young people city leaders say are behind much of the downtown development.
Liz Kazal said she is already registered to vote, but she hopes the push will encourage voters.
"I think a lot of the decisions that we care most about, like transit, and even whether you can sit outside and have a beer, those get made at the local level," Kazal said. "More people should be involved in voting in local elections."
Former Raleigh planning director Mitch Silver said he is not surprised by the sense of passion surrounding the sidewalk seating issue.
"Any time you mix residential and drinking establishments you're going to go through this period of growing pains," he said. "For that many people to sign on, it means this is a big issue."
The deadline to register to vote in Raleigh's municipal election is Friday. Election Day is Oct. 6.