Pam Williamson was passionate about voting even before creating the Pam’s Picks website, which has organized information on candidates and issues since 1990.
“I am an activist for voting rights, and environmental and community issues and generally endorse the candidate who most reflects and espouses my progressive bent,” Williamson, 65, said.
Williamson and her husband started Pam’s Picks after searching for someone who could help them “step into the world of data” by researching candidates and searching with a critical eye. Carl Clark became the answer. He was deeply invested in the data of elections, from loaded excel sheets with candidate information to details surrounding political issues, Williamson said.
“He once even escorted me to his evidence tucked away deep into his closet—reams of papers about newly organized conservative ‘think tanks’ designed to promote a pathological lie funded by domestic and foreign lobbyists under a fake banner of ‘independent research’ and policy wonks,” Williamson said on her website.
Williamson’s opinion of Clark changed. Clark was looking out for people. Clark’s research identified inconspicuous problems that were affecting many people.
Clark died in 2008, but Williamson has carried his ideas forward.
“I wish everyone had a Pam’s Picks site,” Williamson said. “But some people just don’t have the time to research candidates. I consider it an honor to provide that information.”
Williamson said she feels that young people have the chance to change things in the government. In 2014, she joined in a legal battle with local courts in Watauga County to keep early voting on App State’s campus. She said she has seen them volunteer to hand out flyers and educate themselves.
“A lot of changes that are going to be made, both pro and con, the next decade and so on are not going to affect me. It’s young people that are going to be affected,” Williamson said. “They’ll try to sneak up on the younger people.”
Williamson said she is concerned that politicians take advantage of young people when they don’t vote. Williamson said they are piled under student loan debt and voting restrictions. Some issues will fall on young people’s plates later on, like climate change, social security and Medicare.
“They are dedicated to promoting the truth and I haven’t seen that sort of commitment since 1992 over there at ASU,” Williamson said.
The importance of voting pressed by Williamson was passed along to students on campus by volunteers, during the weeks of early voting.
The volunteers stationed themselves, with bright yellow flyers, ready with a quick rundown of voter information.
The volunteers worked for most of the day. Harriet Kline was one of those volunteers.
“Listen to me. You can register and vote at the same time,” Kline said.
The Blue Ridge Ballroom on the second floor of the Plemmons Student Union is an early voting site. Students can register and vote there with valid forms of identification. Further information can be found on vote.appstate.edu.
“The people that are there really want democracy,” Kline said. “They are not going to look for a way to prevent you (from voting).”
Billy Kennedy, a commissioner up for re-election in the 3rd District, joined the volunteers on campus not only to advocate voting for students but to do it before time runs out.
“If these ballot amendments pass ,they are going to take away all kinds of things,” Kennedy said, referring to the six proposed North Carolina Constitutional Amendments.
Kennedy expressed the struggles between current legislators and people like himself who advocate for student voting. Kennedy has fought to keep voting available on campus for students.
Voting on campus is a privilege that could be extinguished soon, Kennedy said.
Voting in the Blue Ridge Ballroom in the Plemmons Student Union is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Nov. 3. Visit vote.appstate.edu for further information.
To research more about Pam’s Picks, visit www.pamspicks.net or visit the Pam’s Picks Facebook page.
Story by Alex Hubbell
Photo courtesy of Pam’s Picks
Featured photo caption: The ballot designating Pam’s Progressive Picks. Also known as Pam Williamson, the woman behind the organization has been endorsing progressive candidates since 1990.