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Election precinct changes could make voting on campus easier this year

Early voting will take place from Feb. 13 to Feb. 29 at Chapel of the Cross near Morehead Planetarium.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly named the location for early voting. Early voting will be hosted at Chapel of the Cross from Feb. 13 to Feb. 29 and on-campus voting on Election Day will be available at the Sonja Hanes Stone Center

Changes to Orange County’s election precincts were approved in December and took effect Jan. 1 of this year. 

These changes include a UNC “super precinct” that covers all on-campus housing. 

The polling location will be at the Sonja Hanes Stone Center on Election Day and Chapel of the Cross will host 15 days of early voting. 

These precinct changes, when paired with the progress made to get UNC One Cards accepted as valid voter ID, could increase student voter turnout in the upcoming presidential election. 

UNC campus housing and the surrounding areas were originally split into five different precincts — all of which were scattered and difficult for students to access. 

“Students often reported to incorrect locations,” Rupi Jain, president of UNC Young Democrats, said. “Student voters get really confused and frustrated at the polls when they’re turned away by precinct officials.” 

The creation of the UNC “super precinct” will ease a lot of this frustration, Jain said. 

“There’s going to be greater access to the ballot box due to having a polling place that’s actually on campus and so centrally located,” Jain said. 

Rose DeConto, a first-year music major, said the new precinct would encourage her to register in Chapel Hill and vote on-campus for the upcoming election. 

“The absentee ballot process can be tricky,” DeConto said. “The easier they make it, the more likely I am to vote.”

In addition to the precinct changes, the University appealed to the North Carolina State Board of Elections to get UNC One Cards approved as a form of valid voter ID.

“While a judge in Wake County made the decision to overturn a majority of North Carolinians vote to implement voter ID for the primary, it is highly likely that we will be required to provide identification for the general election in November,” Joseph Buckner, chairperson of UNC College Republicans, said.

Buckner said he’s glad the University was able to comply with the standards required and thinks it will be helpful that UNC’s student identification is eligible for voting purposes.

“Voter identification is highly important to the security of our elections,” Buckner said. “While this is an important step toward keeping our elections protected, we must make sure that the system isn’t discouraging voters. Allowing student IDs for voting, as well as free voter ID cards from each county’s Board of Elections, are both crucial in making sure we don’t discourage voter participation.” 

With the approval of One Cards, any student that’s registered on-campus can go to the ballot box on or before election day to cast their vote, Jain said.

“Many people don’t have access to a passport or their own driver’s license, which can restrict their ability to vote,” Jain said. “As an out-of-state student, I wouldn’t have been able to vote in the state of North Carolina if it wasn’t for my One Card.”

N.C. Rep. David Price, D-Wake, Orange Durham,  hopes that these changes will foster greater participation among students and the community at large. 

“Voting is our most basic right, and it’s our collective responsibility to make this right as accessible as possible,” Price said. “When everyone’s voices are heard, our elected officials better reflect the values and interests of their communities."


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