New on-campus voting venue not yet decided
Election officials will visit campus again next week to evaluate new options for an on-campus voting site.
Members of the Orange County Board of Elections said they will visit Cobb Residence Hall and the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History to determine if either location might make for a feasible voting site.
The board took no further action during its meeting Tuesday.
Historically, students have voted at Rams Head Dining Hall. But that voting site was scrapped after curbside voting at the site failed to appease longtime Chapel Hill residents.
According to elections data, 186 residents voted at the Rams Head site during the municipal election in November. During the May 2012 primary election — when residents could vote on the controversial marriage law Amendment 1 — the site drew almost 4,000 voters.
The board already visited the North Carolina Hillel building on West Cameron Avenue as a replacement site.
“It’s the boards intention to assess as many sites as have been proposed to make sure they are able to secure the best site,” said Tracy Reams, the director of the Board of Elections.
While Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich said she was happy the Board of Elections committed to exploring other options, she was still worried about the future of on-campus voting.
“They get hung up on this where parking has to be,” said Rich, who attended Tuesday’s meeting. “Chapel Hill is a city when it comes to the campus. There’s buses. You walk. You ride your bike. Very few kids are going to get in their car and drive to vote. It’s not a one size fits all when it comes to these sites.”
In August, the Watauga County Board of Elections eliminated the early voting site and an election day polling precinct on the campus of Appalachian State University.
Since then, Rich said she has worried about pressure to eliminate the only voting site that caters to students.
“You’ve gotta be living under a shell if you think there’s not pressure from outside of Orange County,” Rich said. “Everyone wants to say they’re working together, but at the end of the day I feel like I’m not going to be comfortable until I know what the decision is.”
Reams said students with proposals for an on-campus site can still submit their ideas.
Reams said the board has to submit its finalized list of voting locations by March 14. The board plans to make its final decision about the on-campus site during its meeting March 4.
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