CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article included a quote stating that voters can mail an absentee ballot to an early voting site. This is incorrect. Voters can deliver their absentee ballot in-person to an early voting site in the county in which they are registered from Oct. 15-31, according to Wake County Board of Elections member Gerry Cohen.
If this election season is like any other in Chapel Hill, there'll be plenty of volunteers roaming campus with a clipboard asking any passerby if they're registered to vote. Here's how you can beat them to the punch.
There are many opportunities to register to vote in Orange County, even if you are an out-of-state student.
According to the N.C. State Board of Elections website, college students may register to vote in the county in which their school is located. Students may also choose to keep their home address as their voting address if they wish to vote in their home county. The State Board of Elections has an online form residents can fill out if they want to change their address to register to vote in Orange County.
Savannah Shoemake is a rising junior and the outreach chairperson for UNC’s chapter of Young Democratic Socialists. She said political organizations on campus help register students for voting during the semester.
“Typically, there are multiple, different political groups in the Pit that will have voter registration forms,” Shoemake said.
Shoemake also said students who are interested in the absentee ballot process need to request a ballot by Oct. 27.
“They must first fill out a form to request an absentee ballot, and once they get the absentee ballot, it must be signed by a witness,” Shoemake said. “To return it, voters may mail the absentee ballot before Nov. 3 to the county board of elections.”
Aaron Clark is a UNC student studying political science and philosophy. He originally was registered to vote in his home county but decided to change his voter registration when he moved to UNC.
“I actually registered to vote originally in my hometown when I was 17, but once I moved to Chapel Hill I re-registered so I could vote here instead of having to drive two plus hours home,” Clark said. “It was super simple, all I did was fill out the PDF form and mailed it to Orange County’s Board of Elections.”
Janegrace Lowther is a UNC student from South Carolina. She said registering to vote on campus was easy and allowed her to participate in the primaries.
“It was really easy, but I did have to revoke my South Carolina voter registration in the process,” Lowther said.
However, Lowther said if she wanted to register to vote in South Carolina, she would just have to re-register with that state's board of elections.
Shoemake said it is important for everyone to participate in elections, especially local elections. She also urges students to look up where they are registered to vote to make sure it is up to date.
“During the primaries, I talked to a lot of students who did not realize they were still registered to vote at their home address, and were unable to vote in the primaries because of making this realization too late,” she said. “I encourage all students to look up their voter registration using the voter look-up tool on the N.C. State Board of Elections website and check to see if and where they are registered.”
Clark thinks it is crucial for first time voters to be involved in this election, especially given all of the events which have occurred in the past few months.
“For first-time voters, I would consider this election to be one of the most important in modern U.S. history,” he said. “With the current pandemic and visualizing how our current administration has responded to it, it is imperative now more than ever to let your voice be heard so we can move toward implementing real change in this country.”
If you are interested in registering to vote in Orange County, you can go to the county’s Board of Elections website to find the voter registration application, as well as Orange County voting locations.
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