Voter Registration & Community Education Initiative- Registration and Outreach Events
VOTE’s voter education work this spring will begin with voter registration drives in different neighborhoods throughout the city. Stay tuned for a voter registration event coming to a neighborhood near you!
Leadership Development Training and Neighborhood Canvassing
This summer VOTE will launch its Neighborhood Canvassing Campaign. Staff and volunteers will conduct community surveys to gather information on voting patterns and issues of concern from residents. At the end of the 10 week canvassing period, VOTE will report back the collected data to community members and begin the next segment of the civic engagement campaign.
In the fall, campaigns for Mayor, City Council, Sheriff and other seats will be in full swing. VOTE is partnering with numerous community organizations to bring New Orleans residents’ concerns directly to the candidates. We will do this by hosting candidate forums, helping community members prepare and address their questions and concerns at these and other public forums, as well as in direct correspondence and venues such as radio call-in shows and online. Check the VOTE website this fall for regular updates on these events.
Paralegal and Research Training Program
VOTE is currently recruiting for our Legal Research Training and our Paralegal Training. The Legal Research Training is open to interested community members who want to learn how to do research for criminal cases and about legislative policy. This program will begin in early summer.
The Paralegal Training program is a 10-week certification programs that will begin in the Spring of 2010. In order to apply for the Paralegal Training program, you must be a Formerly Incarcerated Person and have gone through the Legal Research Training. Once the training is complete, participants will be placed with local attorneys. Trainees will continue a mentor/mentee relationship with their instructors over the next year.
In March 2008, over 400 individuals attended an Expungement Clinic designed to help community members get their records cleared to better access employment, education and housing. The expungement process is complicated and expensive. It has proven to be a challenge for many FIPs and even individuals who were never convicted of any wrong doing but still carry an arrest record. VOTE, through its relationship with host organizations Safe Streets, Orleans Public Defenders, and Critical Resistance New Orleans, has taken the lead in completing the arduous process of assisting over 200 individuals through the legal maze of obtaining an expungement.
Once the process has been completed, we will compile the demographic data and release a report on the barriers to employment for FIPs and individuals with convictions. We will use this report to educate the public and our Criminal District Court judges on the importance of expungement. By late 2009 to mid 2010, we intend to have instituted a monthly expungement day in each section of court. We will partner with the Orleans Public Defenders to handle the recruitment and logistics of this program.