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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
September 27, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General

 

Tracy Munford
609-341-3235 or
609-571-5101

 
NJ Announces Unprecedented Youth Voter Education and Registration Initiative in Preparation for 2005 Gubernatorial Election
“Be Powerful, Be Heard – Vote New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit II” to Expand Youth Vote Effort in New Jersey
October 11... Registration Deadline
November 8... Gubernatorial Election
Hip-Hop Summit II

TRENTON, NJ – SEPTEMER 27. 2005 - New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, Russell Simmons, Chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) and Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President/CEO of HSAN - today unveiled details of the “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD – VOTE NEW JERSEY HIP-HOP SUMMIT II,” the state’s largest statewide youth voter education and registration initiative, in preparation for the October 11 registration deadline and the November 8 General Election. SUMMIT II will take place on Friday, September 30, 2005 at the Sovereign Bank Arena on Broad Street in Trenton, New Jersey. Doors open at 10 a.m. and the Summit runs until 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public with a special emphasis on high school students (who can only attend with their respective school) and college students from across the state.

This year’s Hip-Hop Summit on Voter Empowerment will also include 15 high school and college students from across the state of New Jersey performing winning spoken word poetry on the power of the vote. The 15 students were selected after participating in regional spoken word competitions in Newark, Trenton and Camden in May. Winners hail from Douglass, Montclair State, Princeton, Rowan and Rutgers Universities in New Jersey and Temple University in Philadelphia and from high schools in Camden, Essex, Mercer and Middlesex Counties.

The Hip-Hop Summit on Voter Empowerment will be broadcast via the internet to schools throughout the state through web casting provided by New Jersey Network. “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD – VOTE NEW JERSEY HIP-HOP SUMMIT II” is the only Hip-Hop Summit in the nation to use the technology of the web to include students in the classroom across the state, giving it the potential to reach an additional 800,000 students. To tune into the webcast, go to www.NJElections.org .

New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey said, “The “BE POWERFUL, BE HEARD” campaign is a comprehensive approach to voter education and voting. The Attorney General said, “By creating partnerships, like those with HSAN and Rutgers University – one of our primary partners, we are raising awareness and advancing the cause to register voters in New Jersey. We have an opportunity to raise awareness and educate New Jersey residents, particularly young people, about the power of their vote.”

Russell Simmons emphasized, “Once again, we are pleased to be in partnership with New Jersey Attorney General Harvey to encourage young people to vote. Youth education on the power of the vote is an important responsibility of the hip-hop community.”

The New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit on Voter Empowerment will feature Russell Simmons, hip-hop artists Reverend Run, Doug E. Fresh, Def Poets Black Ice, Lemmon and Suheir, and a number of other hip-hop artists and voter education and community activists. The New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit is an interactive panel discussion about the importance of voting and issues of concern to young voters. According to HSAN, Hip-Hop Summits are designed to foster initiatives aimed at engaging the Hip-Hop generation in community development issues. One of those issues is voter education.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President/CEO of HSAN who will be moderating the Summit, concluded, “Other states should follow New Jersey’s lead. Millions of young people across America will be inspired by the example now being set by the youth of New Jersey. Over the last year alone, there was an unprecedented 15 increase in the number of young people who voted. This is hip-hop at its best.”

Over 40 Hip-Hop Summits have been held around the country in cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Philadelphia, Seattle, Birmingham, Dallas, and others. The “BE POWERFUL-BE HEARD” voting initiatives were developed through the HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA) and the Division of Elections. HAVA is the federal law that provides for federal monies to assist states in upgrading voting equipment and election procedures to protect the right to vote of all citizens. New Jersey has been recognized as national leader in the HAVA procedures to protect the right to vote of all citizens. The New Jersey HAVA State Plan is administered under the Office of the Attorney General. According to Attorney General Harvey, there are three primary requirements with the HAVA program; 1) to replace outdated voting machines; 2) to create a statewide data base; and 3) voter education and awareness.

The HAVA initiatives also include Public Service Announcements (PSA’s), sporting and community events, and an informational web site. The PSA’s include Queen Latifah, Fat Joe, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte and others. PSA’s featuring celebrities with a New Jersey connection; including actors Michael Douglas and Jason Alexander, actor, producer and singer Queen Latifah and former New Jersey Nets basketball player Kenny Anderson were recently nominated to receive an Emmy Award.

According to the Attorney General, voters should be aware of new registration requirements. Voters should be informed about new identification requirements at polling place when they vote, including what types of identification are required and accepted. Voting registration deadline is Tuesday, October 11. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. Lastly, absentee ballots are available by visiting www.NJElections.org or your local county of elections For questions, call 1-877-NJ-VOTER (1-877-658-6837).

About Hip-Hop Summit Action Network

HSAN is a non-profit, non-partisan national coalition of artists, entertainment industry leaders, education advocates, civil rights proponents and youth leaders united in the belief that the "hip-hop" phenomena is an enormously influential agent for social change which must be responsibly and pro-actively utilized to fight the war on poverty and injustice. For more information on the New Jersey Hip-Hop Summit or HSAN, go to www.hsan.org.

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