Begining today, registered N.C. voters can cast a ballot for the Nov. 7 election at one of 52 satellite polling sites across the state as part of a new program aimed at improving voter turnout.
UNC-Chapel Hill's satellite poll site at Morehead Planetarium -- open to registered Orange County voters -- will operate Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., until Nov. 3. Head basketball coach Matt Doherty and head football coach Carl Torbush are scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. to cast the first votes at the site.
The polls will allow all registered N.C. voters to cast ballots at the satellite polling place in the county in which they are registered during the next three weeks, mitigating the need for absentee ballots. Voters in counties without satellite poll sites can cast ballots at the county board of elections office.
Higher education bond proponents say the new voting program -- dubbed No Excuse Voting -- will encourage students to vote for the university bond referendum. "This really makes it easier for students to vote," said Aaron Nelson, the University's local relations coordinator.
The $3.1 billion bond package would fund capital needs on the state's public university and community college campuses.
No Excuse Voting is opening satellite polling sites on or near all 16 UNC-system campuses and several community college campuses. Kickoff festivities are planned at other campuses including UNC-Greensboro and N.C. Central University.
Brad Matthews, UNC-CH student body president, and Harold Pettigrew, N.C. State University student body president, both said they hope efforts to increase voter registration translate into increased voter turnout. Nearly 4,000 students have registered at the two schools. But neither Matthews nor Pettigrew would predict how many would vote. "No one's ever done this before, so it's difficult to predict what the turnout will be," Matthews said.
Matthews said he believes the campus polling site will help the bond referendum's chances.
The No Excuse Voting program is the brainchild of Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird, D-Orange, who said she worked with students and local legislators to pass the bill.
Kinnaird said the law aimed to eliminate confusion about voting. "Students live off campus and they may not know where the polling places are," she said. "It's a great convenience for students."
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