Voting is one of the most fundamental rights in the United States, and it is what enables our democracy to be represented by the people – so how should students go about casting their ballot this fall?
How do I become registered to vote?
There are many ways students can register to vote, but fundamentally, you will have to fill out a voter registration form that includes identifying information like your home address and can vary depending on where you live.
North Carolina Public Interest Research Group, a statewide nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, tries to help by partnering with the housing department on campus, Campus Organizer at NCPIRG Katie Craig said. All UNC resident advisors for on-campus housing are supposed to hand out voter registration forms during the first mandatory hall meeting of the year, meaning that all students living on campus should have access to a voter registration form during their first week at school.
As voting season approaches, there are also members of political clubs on campus that will hand out flyers and voter registration forms and answer questions students have about registering to vote.
How can I be an informed voter?
UNC’s chapter of Young Democrats recommends seeking information about elections from credible and a wide range of news sources. They said while social media like Twitter can be useful for breaking news and to quickly read headlines, it is important to read past the eye-catching headlines to understand the full story.
“Democracy requires our year-round participation — not just on election day,” they said in an email.
Around voting time, the Campus Y also provides “a myriad of information and flyers to update you about candidates and things that are being voted on,” Sloan Godbey, the director of finances for the Campus Y, said in an email.
Why are the municipal elections important?
“While we generally focus only on national things and national elections, the municipal ones are the people that impact our day to day life the most,” Godbey said.
Craig also said an advantage of local elections is that people have more direct access to candidates and often have the opportunity to meet them and ask them questions.
“It’s also a really easy time to actually get those candidates in a room together and have local election panels, like we’ve had in the past,” she said.
How can I help promote voting registration and voting in general?
“I think one of the biggest things is just talking about it and creating a culture on campus of ‘everyone votes,’ and that’s just what we do here because we care about our community and things going on,” Craig said.
Another way to get involved is to join an on-campus political organization, such as NCPIRG, Young Democrats, College Republicans or Young Independents, that help others with voter registration.
Can I use my One Card to vote?
UNC students cannot use their student IDs to vote, but Craig said for the upcoming 2019 elections, no voter ID will be required.
She said students are a central part of the Chapel Hill community, and that it’s important that they make their voices heard and hold elected officials accountable.
“If you don’t vote and get engaged with those things, there’s no way for you to actually be able to do that," she said.
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