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Here's what you need to know about early voting

Students and local residents participate in early voting at Chapel of the Cross today.
Students and local residents participate in early voting at Chapel of the Cross today.

Early voting in Orange County is underway for the Nov. 6 midterm election, providing a variety of voting options to local residents. 

Read more: Our guide to everything on the ballot in Orange County

Starting Oct. 17 through Nov. 3, early voting presents an opportunity to participate in voting prior to the official Nov. 6 date, while also allowing same-day registration for those who didn't register to vote by the Oct. 12 deadline. 

Voting will take place at five different locations, during a specified set of dates and times provided by the Orange County Board of Elections. These locations include:

  • The Board of Elections office at 208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough
  • The Carrboro Town Hall at 301 W. Main St., Carrboro
  • The Chapel of the Cross at 304 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill
  • The Seymour Senior Center at 2551 Homestead Rd., Chapel Hill
  • The Efland Ruritan Club Building at 3009 Forrest Ave., Efland

Gerry Cohen, former Chapel Hill Town Council Member and counsel to the N.C. General Assembly, said Orange County is expecting a large number of voters. 

“There’s an enormous amount of early voting," he said. "There’s twice as many hours of early voting available in Orange County than ever before, and it’s running 18 days in a row. So I would hope that people, whether they’re registered to vote yet or not, will take advantage of that.”

Cohen said early voting can be easier for local residents and students alike. 

“Basically, early voting makes it much easier, especially for voters who are younger and more transient," Cohen said. "If you missed the voter registration deadline, you can register during early voting, and if you were already registered in Orange County and had moved, you can report an address change within Orange County, and those are very helpful things for students that neither of which is available on Nov. 6.” 

In addition, the University has made it simpler for students who live on campus to apply for same-day registration. For these students, the Board of Elections has been supplied with a housing roster, meaning students will find it easier to prove residency. 

Rachel Raper, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said the use of this system is nothing new for the county. 

“Because we’re a college town, we’re used to students voting, so that’s just standard operating procedure for us,” Raper said. 

Raper also said that voter turnout is crucial in shaping how local government is operated. 

“I think it’s very important to vote," she said. "That's really the only way you can voice how you want your government run."

The North Carolina legislature has included a referendum on a constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID to vote on this year's ballot. While the General Assembly passed a 2013 law requiring photo ID regulation for voting, a panel of federal judges ruled against the requirement in 2016. 

Current North Carolina law does not require voter ID at ballots for the general election, unless an individual is also completing same-day voter registration. For same-day registration, individuals will need to present a valid ID. 

To find more information on early voting dates as well as the times in which polls are open, visit the Orange County Board of Elections website.

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