In time for the May primaries, students will once again be able to vote early on campus.
The second floor of Rams Head Dining Hall was approved Tuesday as an early voting site by the Orange County Board of Elections. Early voting also allows people to register to vote on the same day they vote.
The approval came after students pushed for an on-campus early voting option, said Tracy Reams, director of the board.
“We just wanted to make it accessible to students to encourage them to vote,” Reams said.
She said early voting sites typically cost about $7,000, which is paid for by the county.
Until last year, Morehead Planetarium was used as an early voting site. But the space became unusable after renovations in 2010.
University Square was then used in 2011, but the site proved inadequate, said senior Jeff DeLuca.
DeLuca, who pushed for the Rams Head location, said voter turnout at University Square was low.
“I set off on a mission to make sure we had early voting site on campus,” DeLuca said.
“Students, faculty and staff have a right to have easy access to polls.”
He said he and some other students started seriously looking for a site at the beginning of January.
Student Body President Mary Cooper said she attended several Board of Elections meetings to promote the Rams Head site.
She also worked with students to create a petition to put the voting site at Rams Head, she said.
“Over 150 students signed the petition and flooded the inbox of the Board of Elections,” DeLuca said.
“The petition saved us. It injected new life into the project.”
Linda Convissor, UNC’s director of local relations, helped communicate with the Board of Elections to bring early voting back onto campus.
“It’s exciting to have it in a place that has so much student traffic,” Convissor said.
Reams said the board had to visit the site and hold several meetings about the practicality of the location before approving it.
She said costs include personnel, establishing Internet connections and setting up voting stations.
Convissor said the most important requirement for the site was parking space. The only place on campus that fulfilled the parking requirement was Rams Head Deck.“For the Board of Elections, this is a new experience. They don’t normally use parking decks,” she said.
“I think the Board of Elections is looking at this as a trial.”
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