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Early voting comes to Rams Head Dining Hall on Monday

Before early voting for the May 8 primary election comes to Chapel Hill Monday, polls opened Thursday morning at the Orange County Board of Elections office in Hillsborough.

The ballot includes local, state and federal offices as well as a referendum on Amendment One, the proposed N.C. legislation defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“We’re hoping for a large turnout, but I really don’t know how many we’re going to get,” said Tracy Reams, Orange County Board of Elections director.

Reams said early voter turnout generally depends on the issue.

Four other early voting and registration stations will open Monday in Orange County, including one on the second floor of Rams Head Dining Hall.

The Rams Head polling station will be open during the next two weeks, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The fact that it’s Rams Head Dining Hall really encourages (voting),” said senior Jeff DeLuca, an intern for Protect N.C. Families, a get-out-the-vote group opposing the amendment.

“That’s the place where everyone on South Campus eats, so there’s really no excuse not to vote. We’ve been encouraging people to bring their friends, make it a social thing,” he said.

Those who missed registration deadlines can still register to vote at one-stop early voting sites. DeLuca said on-campus students only need a OneCard to register at Rams Head.

Junior Courtney Brown said she plans on voting early.

“I’m going to make an effort to get to (Rams Head),” she said. “I think it’s a very important issue.”

Junior Stephen Bishop, a member of the UNC Coalition Against Amendment One, said coalition members will be volunteering outside of the dining hall when early voting opens.

“We’re helping ensure that early voting is very easy, accessible and known to UNC students,” he said.

Bishop said the coalition will be gathering voters in the Pit to march to the polls for early voting.

DeLuca said there will also be a Vote Against Festival today at 4 p.m. near Wilson Library.

He said they will be encouraging voters to get to the polls in the first three days that the Rams Head polling station is open.

“Get it out of the way before exams,” he said.

And Bishop and DeLuca both said they are encouraging out-of-state students to re-register in North Carolina, which they can do at the Rams Head station.

“A lot of out-of-state students think they can’t vote here, but they can,” De Luca said.

He said there are concerns that on-campus voting locations will be discontinued in November if too few students vote.

“Basically no matter where you sit on the amendment, it’s in voters’ interest to vote in this primary,” DeLuca said.

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