When Orange County held its municipal elections on Tuesday, many voters in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area had already cast their ballot.
According to the Orange County Board of Elections, 6,863 people took advantage of early voting this year. This is a jump from 2019, when 4,293 people voted early.
Rachel Raper, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said that the county offered two early voting methods: absentee ballots and early in-person voting.
“You can request an absentee ballot be mailed to you and we can mail that anywhere in the world,” Raper said. “Or, starting the third Thursday before the election, you can just go to one of our early voting sites.”
Those interested in voting through absentee ballot had to use an absentee ballot request form, which could have been submitted either in person or by mail.
This year’s municipal elections featured important races, including those for Chapel Hill mayor, Carrboro mayor, Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Town Council and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.
Carrboro Town Council member Randee Haven-O'Donnell, who was reelected Tuesday according to unofficial election results, said that the number of open seats this year likely encouraged greater voting activity.
“There's got to be something that propels folks to get out and get out early,” Haven-O'Donnell said. “The school board election for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is huge.”
Current Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, who did not seek reelection this year, said that COVID-19 kept many voters from hitting the polls in person last election cycle, but that people felt more comfortable doing so this year.