Typically at this time of year, North Campus is full of students volunteering their time to help their peers prepare for the upcoming election. With stations designed for students to register to vote and check their voter status, organizations on campus were able to promote hands-on civic engagement within the UNC community.
Now, with many students sent home and no longer connected to these resources, they have limited access and few incentives to seek out voting information and tools. Between the chaos of the interrupted semester, campus closing, a pandemic and Zoom burnout, voting is probably the last thing on many students' minds. Here’s why it shouldn’t be.
For starters, North Carolina is a swing state, meaning a very small number of votes separates the two main candidates during most election cycles. Your vote can help push the state toward your candidate of choice. In 2016, less than 4 percent of the votes stood between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Secondly, your vote matters more than you think. Even if you feel let down or disappointed by politics, voting is the most direct and effective way to have a say in what goes on in our government, especially as young people.
In 2016, around 60 percent of Americans voted, with people over 65 seeing the biggest increase in voter turnout. Young voters make up around half of the voting population, yet are historically less likely to vote. Many college students are first time voters, and for most, it is their first time voting in a presidential election.
Lastly, if this year has proven anything, it is that politics have a significant and direct impact on us as students. Federal COVID-19 response, university funding and social issues like reproductive health and immigration policy all prove that the lives of students have the potential to dramatically change as a result of policy at the state and national level. Voting for candidates who will keep students, especially marginalized ones, in mind is essential to create better conditions for us moving forward.
The deadline to register to vote online, in person or by mail is Friday, Oct. 9 in North Carolina. Students who are not sure if they are registered can check their status on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website. Students can register online on the NC DMV website, in person at designated registration places and times or by mail by sending a NC Voter Registration Form to your local election official’s office.
For those who are currently living in Chapel Hill but are registered to vote in another county, the deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27, and can also be found on the NCSBE website. Early voting is from Oct. 15 to Oct. 31, and the general election will take place on Nov. 3.