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A shortened early voting period hasn’t slowed voters

Junior psychology and political science major Caitlin Fischer, from Greensboro, NC., voted early at the NC Hillel on Monday afternoon. "Everyone needs to go out and vote, so I've been trying to tell people about it," says Fischer. Early voting began on Friday.
Junior psychology and political science major Caitlin Fischer, from Greensboro, NC., voted early at the NC Hillel on Monday afternoon. "Everyone needs to go out and vote, so I've been trying to tell people about it," says Fischer. Early voting began on Friday.

Changes to the North Carolina voting laws in January limited early voting to 10 days, but Tracy Reams, the director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said there is actually more time for voters to come during the shortened schedule.

“There are now more hours during the shorter period of time, so I don’t feel that the change will affect turnout,” Reams said.

Ella Koeze, a senior majoring in English and geography, said the reduced time period for early voting is a step backward.

“It is silly,” Koeze said. “Early voting is a good thing, so there should be more of it.”

In addition to the change in the early voting period, the Orange County Board of Elections decided in the spring to change the on-campus polling location from Rams Head Dining Hall to North Carolina Hillel due to issues with accessibility.

“We put it there to facilitate students, so we hope they utilize the site,” Reams said.

Koeze said N.C. Hillel was a good fit for her needs.

“I can vote more conveniently because I live in Carrboro,” Koeze said as she was walking away from the polls Monday.

Reams said the new voting site has not affected the amount of early voters.

“The numbers are pretty comparable, so there is not a big difference.”

At the end of the day Saturday, 6,690 people had voted in the Orange County general election. Of those, 698 people had voted at the N.C. Hillel site.

In comparison, in the 2012 general election, which was a presidential election year, 9,882 people had voted early by the end of the first early voting weekend. Of those, 1,000 people had voted at Rams Head Dining Hall, the on-campus early voting site.

Presidential election years typically draw higher voter turnouts.

In both years, the ratio of people voting at the UNC campus polling location to the total number of Orange County voters has been about one to 10.

Linda Ellentuck, bookkeeper and operations coordinator at N.C. Hillel, said in order to accommodate the voting site, the Hillel staff had to make sure there was plenty of parking and a clean lower sanctuary where voting would take place, as well as ensuring extended hours and number of staff to work during the early voting period.

Ellentuck said there have been no problems with early voting at N.C. Hillel so far.

city@dailytarheel.com

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