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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Schools Cast Votes Early

UNC-CH opened its satellite polling site at Morehead Planetarium Monday. The site, open to all Orange County voters, will remain open until Nov. 3.

Several system schools, including N.C. Central University and UNC-Greensboro, were on Fall Break Monday, so students at those schools had to wait until later in the week to begin early voting. Some of the state's community colleges also are offering satellite polling sites.

Many student leaders have said they hope the satellite polling sites will boost voter turnout and ensure passage of a $3.1 billion higher education bond referendum, which would fund capital improvements on the state's university and community college campuses.

N.C. Central plans to kick off its "no excuse" voting campaign today when students return from Fall Break, said N.C. Central Student Body President Timothy Peterkin.

Under this voting system, registered N.C. voters can cast their ballots three weeks prior to Election Day at selected sites set up in their registered counties.

Peterkin said students who vote early will receive discounts at the university's homecoming events.

Early voters also will receive special badges denoting that they voted during the "no excuse" registration period. "Everyone who votes early will be asked to wear them," Peterkin said.

He said there is a special march to the polls planned for students who still want to vote on the official day, Nov. 7.

UNC-G students also are planning a Thursday march to kick off voting season.

"We are going to march down to the Board of Elections and all vote together," said John Shearin, UNC-Greensboro student body president.

Shearin said he expects about 30 percent of those who vote in the election to take advantage of the early voting program at UNC-G. He said he hopes the march will show the community that students are anything but apathetic.

"We want to send a message to the community and anyone else who sees us walk down the street that the student vote is important," he said.

But students at Appalachian State University are not so fortunate.

Student Body President Ryan Bolick said he requested a campus polling site but was unsuccessful in landing one.

Jane Hodges, Watauga County Board of Elections director, said an on-campus polling site was not feasible due to budget restraints and the school's close proximity to the board of elections.

Voters also can cast absentee ballots at their county board of elections offices between now and Nov. 3, also the last day of the No Excuse Voting Polls.

Bolick said student government officials have chosen to take some of the money that would have been spent on a one-stop polling place and use it to provide transportation for students to their respective polling sites. "If the polls won't come to (students), we'll take them to the polls," he said.

Bolick said he was concerned some students would not vote since there is no campus polling site. "It's one thing to register, it's another to get (students) to vote."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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