Students planning on participating in elections this November will have to walk a little farther to cast their votes than in previous years.
Early voting will now be at the North Carolina Hillel located at 210 W. Cameron Ave., the Orange County Board of Elections decided Tuesday.
Rams Head Dining Hall previously served as the voting location, but the board decided to change it because members said they thought the location’s curbside voting system was inefficient.
Cobb Residence Hall and the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History were also being considered, although recently the competition was narrowed to Cobb and Hillel.
“It came to us from the UNC community,” Tracy Reams said about the idea to choose between Cobb and Hillel.
Reams, executive director for the Orange County Board of Elections, said Hillel would be the best site for the board’s purposes.
She said accessibility issues like limited curbside voting space and steep steps prevented the Board from choosing Cobb.
She also said input from not only the board, but also UNC students, the Chapel Hill community and elected officials in the county helped decide on the new one-stop early voting location.
Not everyone on the Board of Elections was supportive of the decision.
Jamie Cox, the board secretary, said Cobb could better serve both the campus and surrounding community due to its location and ease of pedestrian access.
He said Hillel was a great site, but it was smaller and more out-of-the-way and that including Cobb alongside it would be a better alternative.
“I thought including an extra site would be a benefit,” Cox said.
His dissenting vote means the State Board of Elections will now review the decision as well as Cox’s suggestion to include a site at Cobb.
There was some concern that the location of Hillel would deter students from voting, Cox said.
The challenge would be making sure students knew the location for voting had changed.
Daniel Jones, a freshman political science major at UNC, didn’t know where Hillel was, but said it wouldn’t discourage too many students from participating in elections.
“People who already want to vote will anyway,” Jones said.
The Board of Elections also considered moving its campus voting site to Cobb Residence Hall or the Sonja Haynes Stone Center before opting to move it to Hillel’s building.
Ari Gauss, North Carolina Hillel’s executive director, said he was excited and honored to give Carolina students an easily accessible place to vote.
He added that having a voting site on or near campus was critical, and Hillel was delighted to be able to serve that role.
“North Carolina Hillel’s primary obligation is to be a place for students at Carolina,” Gauss said. “Clearly this was an opportunity to be a resource for the community.”
He also said the decision-making process was an ongoing conversation, which had taken place over the past couple months.
He said the time was used to answer questions about the Hillel’s potential as a voting site, including parking availability and internet access.
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