Early voting’s move down Franklin Street has unified the UNC Young Democrats and College Republicans through disappointment. The two groups argue that moving the early-voting site from Morehead Planetarium to University Square will prove discouraging for would-be voters. As those complaints mount about the new location possibly deterring turnout, it’s hard to distinguish those arguments from whines.
This year, suite 133-G in University Square on Franklin Street will serve as home to early voting because Morehead Planetarium had to make room for classes. The move has sparked opposition, with some claiming that a short stroll would dissuade prospective voters from pulling the lever.
The move is insignificant, especially considering how easily students make the trek for restaurants, bars or on their commute home. When mapped out from the Pit — the epicenter of campus — the University Square destination requires only about five extra minutes of travel time on foot. A good rule of thumb: if the P2P bus can take you there, then it’s actually not that far.
The issue that demands more attention is the fact that, in the last Chapel Hill municipal election, only 416 of the 7,737 who voted were in the 18-to-24 demographic. It’s hard to believe that holding early elections almost half a mile southwest of the regular location will do much in the way of discouraging student voters who already don’t show up to the polls enough.
Students and community members alike should see the move as a fresh start and take the opportunity to start a much more important legacy. Instead of being the campus community that is known for griping about a little extra exercise, it’s time to be a community that exercises its democratic privilege.
The Morehead Planetarium has name recognition and maybe even sentimental value for longtime or relatively new voters who cast their first votes there. On a day full of classes, it was convenient to be able to vote on campus. Very little, if any, convenience has been lost with the move to University Square. Anyone who decides not to vote early, or vote at all, will have only themselves to blame.
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