“The main reason for moving was the proximity to Morehead (Planetarium),” said Tracy Reams, director of the Orange County Board of Elections. “We have better parking, and the voting enclosure is larger.”
Over the last few years, the University’s early-voting site has switched several times.
Before moving to N.C. Hillel in 2014, the site was previously located at Rams Head Dining Hall for two years. The planetarium and University Square were both sites before that.
Reams said many factors, such as site renovations and a lack of feasibility for some voters, have led to the frequent switching of early-voting sites.
“We want to try and be consistent, and when we establish a site, we want to stay there,” Reams said.
“We were trying really hard to find some place on campus, and the Hillel was the closest that we could get for our last move.”
Reams said decisionmakers received plenty of negative feedback after the early-voting site left the planetarium, since it was the site with the highest early-voter turnout.
“We’re hoping that we’re going to get a lot of good feedback from moving to the Chapel of the Cross,” Reams said. “We’re hoping that we’re going to stay there for a long time, unless there’s a reason that we have to move.”
Reams said that because Chapel Hill has two early-voting sites, expectations for voter turnout are high.
“I think the location is much more accessible and visible from campus,” said Gerry Cohen, a former member of the Chapel Hill Town Council. “The Chapel of the Cross is surrounded on three sides by the University campus, so functionally, it’s an on-campus site.”
Cohen said that in terms of University community members, there ought to be a higher voter turnout after the change.
“For students, faculty and staff, it’s a walkable location,” Cohen said. “There are also a lot of bus routes that run right by the Chapel of the Cross.”
Cohen anticipates the new voting site will be used heavily, as three elections will take place this academic year.
Cobey Mauldin, a senior history and German major, said the change in location won’t have much of an impact on whether he will vote.
“The location change doesn’t play a huge role in me voting,” Mauldin said. “As long as I vote, it’ll be fine.”
Early voting for Orange County government will run from Thursday, Oct. 22 to Saturday, Oct. 31.