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Voting in Chapel Hill for the first time? Here are the basics

voter registration
Ricky Leung (left) asks UNC student Samantha Mndello (right) to register to vote for the 2018 election in the Pit on Monday, Sept. 24.

Although governor and U.S. Senate are not on the ballot in North Carolina, everyone in Chapel Hill gets to vote this November for the U.S. House of Representatives, their state legislatures and several important local offices.

Early voting begins on Wednesday, Oct. 17. For UNC students, this coincides with the beginning of fall break. 

“Chapel of the Cross, right beside the Morehead Planetarium, hosts early voting October 17 – November 3,” said Rachel Raper, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, in an email. “Although any voter can vote at any early voting site, students have found Chapel of the Cross especially convenient.”

Students may also choose to vote as a resident of Chapel Hill, or as a resident of their hometown and use an absentee ballot.

"If a student registers at his or her school address, that registration cancels any previous registration in another county,” Raper said.

After Hurricane Florence caused statewide damage just 50 days before election day, the State Board of Elections began coordinating with affected counties to ensure the availability of ballots.

According to a press release from the board, the office is stepping in to send ballots for several counties that are unable to do so because of flooding and power and internet outages, or they were inaccessible due to the storm.

Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, addressed the efforts to guarantee voting access for all counties. 

“We are assessing emergency options, and our team is committed to assisting county boards and voters in the affected areas," Strach said.

In addition to elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and the N.C. General Assembly, there are six amendments to the state constitution up for referendum.

These amendments include: a right to hunt and fish, a photo identification requirement, establishing a board of ethics, a provision to shift the power to appoint judges away from the governor, a provision to adjust the rights of crime victims and changes to the structure of income taxes.

Many campus organizations are working to encourage students to vote. Austin Hahn, president of UNC Young Democrats, emphasized the need to inform students about how to vote.

“Ultimately, our goal is to help students find times and dates that are the easiest and most accessible for them to vote,” Hahn said. “My first time voting was on an absentee ballot in my dorm room. The most important thing that anyone can do is vote this November, and almost any form of activism outside of that becomes useless without a cast ballot.”

The Daily Tar Heel contacted the UNC College Republicans for this story, but they did not respond.

For anyone who has not registered to vote, it’s not too late. The regular voter registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12. Absentee ballots can also be requested for any reason up to a week before election day.


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