Welcom to Before You Vote, The Daily Tar Heel’s election podcast. We will be breaking down what you need to know about voting before the 2022 midterm elections.
In this season’s first episode, City & State Editor Emmy Martin sits down with reporter Maddie Singleton to talk about registering to vote, and audio staffer Connor Buchanan talks with Orange County Board of Elections Director Rachel Raper about how to vote.
Here’s a few important dates to remember: Oct. 14 is the deadline to register to vote. From Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, you can register to vote and vote early. Nov.1 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot. Nov. 8 is election day.
This episode was produced by Audio Editor Will Christensen.
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EMMY MARTIN, HOST: The midterm elections are just five weeks away.
Registering to vote and voting can be confusing, especially for first time voters or people who have recently moved to North Carolina.
Welcome to Before You Vote, The Daily Tar Heel’s election podcast. I’m Emmy Martin, the City & State Editor. Every Tuesday until Election Day on November 8, we will be breaking down what Orange County residents and UNC students need to know before heading to the polls.
MARTIN: Students at UNC might have questions about how to change where they are registered to vote, how to request an absentee ballot, where to vote, and more.
DTH City & State reporter Maddie Singleton is here to talk through what you need to know about registering to vote in Orange County.
Maddie, welcome to Before You Vote.
MADDIE SINGLETON, REPORTER: Thank you for having me, Emmy
MARTIN: I want to dig into why this midterm is important before we talk about registering to vote.
On a national scale, midterms reflect what voters think of the political party that’s in the White House. Of course, right now that is the Democrats and the Biden Administration.
Could you walk me through the importance of the midterms in North Carolina, Maddie?
SINGLETON: Yeah, North Carolina is a purple state with a Democratic Governor and a state legislature led by Republicans. This election may have a big impact in North Carolina.
In North Carolina, the economy and abortion might be two main issues driving voters to the polls. But of course, many other factors will also affect election results.
The U.S. Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd is drawing the most attention, but the 2022 midterm election will also determine control of the North Carolina General Assembly.
MARTIN: I think a lot of people often overlook the state legislature. Why shouldn’t they?
SINGLETON: The N.C. General Assembly has a Republican majority, and Governor Roy Cooper is a Democrat. This election could lead to a supermajority in the general assembly that could overrule any veto from Cooper. But, it could also lead to a turnover in that majority.
MARTIN: Thanks, Maddie. I think that is a good overview. Now, I want you to help us understand how to register to vote in Orange County.
MADDIE SINGLETON: The deadline to register to vote is in 10 days, on October 14.
After that, you can only register to vote during early voting, which takes place from October 20 to November 5.
Early voting lets voters cast their ballots at any early voting site in their county before Election Day. When checking in at these sites, you can register to vote or update your existing registration.
MARTIN: Why would you need to update your existing registration?
SINGLETON: Voters may need to change their address or party affiliation.
MARTIN: Okay, can you change any of these things on Election Day?
SINGLETON: No, you can’t.
EMMY MARTIN: Got it. How do you register to vote before October 14?
SINGLETON: You can register or update your registration online at the DMV’s website or in person at a DMV location if you are an existing DMV customer.
If you are an out-of-state student or just moved to North Carolina, you need to fill out a registration application and return or mail it to the North Carolina State Board of Elections office or your county board of elections office. This application can be found on the state board of election’s website.
Also, to register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years old by the date of the general election and not be in jail or prison for a felony
MARTIN: That reminds me. People with felonies who are on parole, post-release, or probation can now vote in North Carolina, right?
SINGLETON: Yes, the North Carolina Court of Appeals officially expanded voting rights on July 27 to tens of thousands of North Carolinians with felony convictions who are not in jail or prison.
MARTIN: We will talk more about that in a future episode. Let’s talk about absentee by-mail voting. Can you walk me through that process?
SINGLETON: Sure. November 1 is the deadline to submit an absentee ballot request form. You can request an absentee ballot online or on paper. These ballots make it easier for people to cast their vote if they can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. So students who want to vote in their hometowns can still vote there through this process.
The deadline to return the absentee ballot is November 8, Election Day.
MARTIN: Thank you for breaking that down for us, Maddie.
SINGLETON: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN, HOST: Now that we have talked through registering to vote in Orange County, DTH audio staffer Connor Buchanan reports on what you need to know about voting.
CONNOR BUCHANAN, REPORTER: All across the country, people will soon be casting their ballots in the 2022 midterm elections. While neither President Joe Biden nor Governor Roy Cooper will be on the ballot, lots of important races will be contested across the country, including here in North Carolina.
Students come to UNC from all over the state and the country. For the midterm elections, they can choose to vote in the district they lived in before they came to the University or they can register to vote in Chapel Hill.
Orange County Board of Elections director Rachel Raper said that, for students, voting looks very different depending on where they want their vote to count.
RACHEL RAPER: The students need to decide where they call home, and if they still consider
the state or town that they came from home, then I would encourage them to either vote by mail or go vote at an early voting site in their home state or town. Now if they consider Chapel Hill their home they would register to vote here, then make a voting plan and they can vote by mail, early, or on election day.
BUCHANAN: If you are already registered to vote in another county and you change your registration to Chapel Hill, make sure to add your old address and information at the bottom of your new registration form so the Orange County Board of Elections can notify you of the old board to prevent any difficulties in the counting of votes.
To vote by mail in Chapel Hill, you can fill out an absentee ballot request on the Orange County Board of Elections website.
RAPER: You will need two witnesses to witness you vote that ballot and then you’ll have the witnesses fill out their information, you’ll fill out yours, and then you can either mail it back or drop it off at our office or at an early voting site.
BUCHANAN: You can request a mail-in ballot up until November 1st; however, Raper recommended that you give yourself three weeks to receive your ballot, fill it out, and get it back to the board of elections in time.
Voting early is also an option for people who want to vote in-person.
RAPER: Most of our UNC students love to take part in the in-person absentee voting or voting early. We do offer Chapel of the Cross is very close to campus; they love having students come to them to vote early.
BUCHANAN: Early voting in-person begins October 20th and continues until Saturday, November 5th, like Maddie said earlier. You can vote every day during that window, or on Election Day on Tuesday, November 8th.
Voting locations for early in-person voting in Orange County include: Orange Works at Hillsborough Commons, Carrboro Town Hall Complex, Chapel of the Cross, Efland Ruritan Club, Efland Seymour Senior Center, and Chapel Hill Library. Voting locations for Election Day can be found on the Orange County Board of Elections’ website.
North Carolina does not require voters to present ID. However, first time voters who didn’t provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number in their registration process may be asked to present a photo ID. If you are asked for ID when you go to vote, you can show a North Carolina driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID and you will be able to cast your ballot.
RAPER: I encourage people as part of their voting plan to look themselves up using the state voter lookup tool. It is such an excellent tool because you can make sure that you are in fact registered and they have the spelling of your name correct.
BUCHANAN: You can also go to the state voter lookup tool to get a sample ballot that looks exactly like the real ballot will when you go to vote.I asked Raper what other resources are available to learn about who and what is going to be on the ballot.
RAPER: So I always encourage people to go to the league of women voters. They maintain vote411.org where they have a lot of the candidate information and on that website they send candidates out questionnaires so again I do encourage people to use their resource.
BUCHANAN: Voters can also visit the DTH’s election coverage for descriptions of candidates on the ballot. Raper noted that every vote counts, especially in midterm elections.
RAPER: So I will always say every vote counts. I’ve seen so many close races: just in 2020 we had a statewide race that was separated by a little over 400 votes so certainly every vote counts. Students do, or all students, I guess, if they’re living on campus do represent a younger age group that sometimes we don’t see in elections or voter turnout as much so they certainly add a younger voice to our electorate.
BUCHANAN: In Chapel Hill, I’m Conor Buchanan.
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EMMY MARTIN, HOST: Thanks, Connor.
Here is a quick overview of the dates to remember. October 14 is the deadline to register to vote before early voting. From October 20 to November 5, you can register to vote and vote early. November 1 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot. And November 8 is election day.
I’m Emmy Martin. Thanks for listening to Before You Vote. See you next Tuesday.