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Here's what you need to know about voting in Orange County before early voting begins

	“I voted today” stickers are displayed at the polling center at the Center for Dramatic Art in Chapel Hill.

“I voted today” stickers are displayed at the polling center at the Center for Dramatic Art in Chapel Hill.

Early voting for Orange County's municipal elections is right around the corner, starting on Oct. 16, and there's still time to register or switch your county of registration. 

Offices for Chapel Hill Mayor, Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Carrboro Mayor and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education are up for election on Nov. 5.

According to the Orange County Board of Elections, to vote, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A resident of North Carolina and Orange County for 30 days before the election
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Not registered and not voting in any other county or state.

The deadline for registering to vote is 25 days before an election, but those who miss the deadline can register and vote during the one-stop early voting period with proof of residency.

The N.C. Voter Registration Application is available on the Orange County Board of Elections’ website. The application must be printed and signed, then dropped off or mailed to the board's office.

Those who are already registered in their hometown can transfer their registration to Orange County. Rachel Raper, director of Orange County Board of Elections, said you can cancel a previous registration at the bottom of the voter registration form, and the office will alert the voter's previous location.

“I believe it is important for everyone to exercise their right to vote," Raper said in an email. "Voting is the only way to have a voice in how you are governed."

Sarah Roakes from Salisbury and Morgan Stott from Polk County, first-year students at UNC, are not registered to vote in Orange County.

“I haven’t thought about it, and I feel as if it is better for me to stay registered in my hometown," Roakes said. "I also don’t know the process of registering myself in Orange County."

Stott said she is also registered in her hometown and doesn't see any reason to change that. 

Alana Edwards, president of UNC Young Democrats, said she believes everyone should register to vote in Orange County because it is more convenient than having to go back home to vote. It is also a great way to get your voice heard in the community you are currently residing in.

Edwards said there will be student organizations in the Pit, including UNC Young Democrats and student government, on Oct. 11 to register voters. 

“In Chapel Hill, there’s quite a lot of big issues that are going to be talked about in this election, especially stuff that impacts students,” Edwards said. 

These issues include affordable housing, public transit, zoning and development and traffic control.

UNC Young Democrats will be hosting a panel for all the candidates running for Chapel Hill mayor and town council on Tuesday, Oct. 8 in Manning Hall from 6 - 7 p.m. Edwards said this is a way to hear more about where the candidates stand on issues and meet them.

“Local issues are important," Edwards said. "As students of UNC, we are here for four — or however many years, and it may feel like campus is a bubble, but it is important to make our voices heard in the community of Chapel Hill and our county as well."

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