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The Daily Tar Heel

How to vote in Orange County

Voters ages 18 to 24 have had the lowest voter turnout of all age groups.

The statewide primary election day is Tuesday, March 15, and residents have until Feb. 19 to register to vote in Orange County precincts. A same-day registration process will also be open to residents at six sites across the county during the early voting period, which begins March 3 and ends March 12 at 1 p.m.

A 2014 study by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that since 1964, voters ages 18 to 24 have had the lowest voter turnout rates of all other age groups, even during presidential election years.

Tracy Reams, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said there are many mechanisms to encourage student turnout come election day.

Beginning in 2016, all registered North Carolina voters must present a photo ID at the polls. Acceptable forms of identification include a state driver’s license, state identification card and a valid U.S. passport.

In addition to the Board of Elections, the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group on UNC’s campus is also working to increase student voter turnout and make sure students are aware of candidate platforms and voting procedures. Taylor Moss, campus organizer for the group, said the purpose of the organization is to encourage student participation in local, state and national elections.

“We have a lot of things we care about versus the baby boomers who have consistently been able to have their say,” Moss said.

She said student voter turnout in the 2015 municipal election increased by 270 percent since the last contested election in 2011.

“This year we’ve been getting a lot more questions in the Pit, and there have been so many students looking for more information,” Moss said.

Junior Anna Caudill said she has not been as interested in municipal elections because she is not a full time resident of Chapel Hill.

“If I had more information on the candidates, it’s possible that I would vote, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it,” she said. “It’s mainly about me not having a permanent home here, not having kids in the school system and not being cognizant of local taxes.”

Caudill said although she will be voting in the upcoming presidential election, certain requirements make the process difficult for students.

“I think it’s been easy to figure out the voting procedures, but I think it’s overly complicated to get it done,” Caudill said. “I think it’s ridiculous that you have to be registered in the specific county you’re voting in.”

Residents who want to vote in Orange County can download the voter registration form online and can also obtain physical copies at the Board of Elections office, Carrboro Town Hall and Chapel Hill Town Hall. Students and faculty can also find applications at Davis Library on campus. All applications must be mailed to the Board of Elections office.

Orange County also offers “no excuse” absentee voting by mail. Any registered voter in North Carolina qualifies for absentee voting and can request an absentee ballot by March 8.

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