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A guide to voting in and around Orange County, UNC campus this fall


DTH Photo Illustration. Absentee ballots can either be mailed back to the State Board of Elections or dropped off at respective county board of elections sites.

Election season is underway. Municipal elections in Chapel Hill will happen on Nov. 7, and multiple seats will be up for grabs.

Here are some of the voting resources to know to help ensure community members are prepared to cast their votes this November.

Registering to vote

The deadline to register in Orange County is 25 days before the election. This year’s registration deadline is Oct. 13, as the municipal election for the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, and the Board of Education election for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will take place on Nov. 7.

“The smaller the election, the closer that government is to you and the more power they have over making decisions about your day-to-day life,” Orange County Director of Elections Rachel Raper said.

In North Carolina, residents can register to vote and then cast their ballot at any early voting location in their county of residence during the early voting period. For this year’s municipal elections, the early voting period is Oct. 19 to Nov. 4.

Proof of residency — like a North Carolina driver’s license, other photo identification issued showing the voter’s name and address or a current college photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation — is required to register.

“Democracy doesn't work unless we all make it work,” Natasha Young, adviser to UNC's Civic Engagement Working Group, said.

Specific information for UNC students

All UNC students have the option to register to vote in Orange County or register for their home county, whether in state or out of state.

If a student chooses to register to vote in Orange County, they can complete or update their registration once they have received their residence hall assignment and University address. If a student is living off-campus, they can register to vote using their address.

Sophia Luna, a rising senior at UNC who is registered to vote in Buncombe County, said that having a voting plan is important for students registered to vote outside of Orange County.

“It’s empowering, it’s important and it's rewarding to share information about,” she said.

Absentee voting

If a student or community member chooses to vote in their home county, they will need to request an absentee ballot. Deadlines to request an absentee ballot vary by state and county and can be found on each county's board of election website.

Absentee ballots can either be mailed back to the State Board of Elections or dropped off at respective county board of elections sites.

Where to vote in Orange County

Those who are registered to vote in Orange County, or who opt to use same-day registration at an Orange County early voting site, can vote at their polling precinct which can be found on the NCSBE website.

Students registered at campus housing and in Granville Towers can vote on Election Day at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.

The Orange County Board of Elections met in 2020 and decided to consolidate UNC into one voting precinct, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center, to make the election experience easier for students who were often going from precinct to precinct, Raper said.

Voter ID

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A photo ID is also required to vote in North Carolina, a policy reinstated in April of this year by the N.C. Supreme Court. 

The N.C. State Board of Elections has opened an application process for colleges like UNC to allow students and faculty to use their One Cards as a valid form of photo ID. The application deadline for colleges to apply for this provision is June 28. 

@DTHCityState | 

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