The North Carolina primary elections are already underway, and the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is quickly approaching.
If someone is not able to go to the county where they are registered to vote on election day or visit a one-stop early voting site before the election, they can request an absentee ballot and vote by mail.
Anna Eblen, a first-year student at UNC, said absentee voting is not difficult.
“The process was pretty easy," she said. "The form to ask for an absentee ballot is pretty easily accessible on the North Carolina voting website."
To receive a mail-in ballot, a voter has to request the form available on the North Carolina State Board of Elections absentee voting website and return the form — either by mail or in person — to their home county’s board of elections by 5 p.m. on Feb. 25. Absentee ballot request forms and absentee ballots can no longer be submitted by email or fax.
Once the ballot is received in the mail, it must be filled out with two witnesses present and mailed or brought in person to their home county’s board of elections by 5 p.m. on election day, although ballots postmarked on election day received up to three days after the election are still accepted.
Rachel Raper, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said she sees no drawbacks to voting with an absentee ballot. She said no matter how someone chooses to exercise their right to vote, it is the right thing to do, and how they choose to do it just depends on where they call home.
“For some students they call home home, you know where their parents are, and for other students, they have probably vowed to never return home, and they look at UNC-Chapel Hill as their home,” she said.
There are several reasons someone may want to request an absentee ballot. One common reason a university student may request an absentee ballot is that they don’t feel as connected to Chapel Hill as they do to their home county.
“I don’t feel particularly connected to the local elections here yet because I haven’t been here for that long,” Eblen said of her decision to vote absentee by mail.
Another consideration for students is how many times they may have to change their registration to reflect changing dorm or apartment addresses. Kathleen Moskalik, a first-year UNC student from Raleigh, said she chose to submit an absentee ballot for this reason.
“My mom thought it would be easier because I’m staying in the dorm for one year, I’m going to go to an apartment next year. She said it would just be easier to keep my address as — because I’m from Raleigh — as my one from Wake County and then maybe change it later after I have an apartment," she said.
Raper said no matter how someone chooses to cast their votes, they are just as valuable.
“I can’t see any drawback in exercising your right to vote no matter how you choose to do so,” she said.
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