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'Pens, paper and politics': Campus organizations hold event to increase student voter registration


"I voted" stickers were distributed at polling stations located in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History during Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

As Nov. 7 approaches, election efforts have commenced on campus.

National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 19, brought campus groups to the Student Union and the Pit to connect, inform and register voters ahead of the upcoming Election Day.

“This is a non-partisan civic holiday initiative to get folks excited about and bring more attention to registering to vote,” Natasha Young, leadership development program coordinator of the Student Life & Leadership (SLL), said.

Campus organizations such as SLL and the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG) communicated information to possible voters on campus.

They spoke about registration and explained that students can register to vote in person through campus organizations or online through the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles' website.

To vote in U.S. federal, local and state elections in North Carolina, an individual must have U.S citizenship, meet the state's residency requirements, be 18 years or older and register by the deadline. The voter registration deadline is Oct. 13 for municipal elections taking place on Nov. 7.

In addition to registering voters, campus groups also informed students about changes to the voting process such as how, as of this year, photo ID is required to vote in North Carolina. 

The Orange County Board of Elections is offering free voter ID cards to eligible voters at their offices in Hillsborough.

Thanks to efforts from UNC staff members, Young, who headed SLL's table at the event, said students can now use their physical One Cards to fill the requirement. 

Students at the event could both register to vote and grab a sticker to show off their registration. 

Civic engagement coordinators at SLL, Kayla Cooper and Gared Wong, shared a presentation to help promote civic engagement, voter registration and educate students about their important role in the voting process. 

Their presentation included information about how students can register to vote in Chapel Hill by using an online service such as or They also provided students with paper voter registration forms. 

Cooper said SLL plans to host more events associated with voter registration and continue to provide resources to students. 

“We are currently in the process of thinking about some more events to do," she said. "We hope to do some more voter registration events and also train some student organizations to help register people to vote."

Municipalities control variables that impact students such as transportation accessibility, grocery store availability and rent affordability, Theodore Nollert, a candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council and current UNC graduate student, said. These issues all come down to decisions of the mayor and Town council, he added.

Nollert said students need to advocate for the issues that affect them. 

“They are the lifeblood of the town in so many ways,” he added. 

He said young people make up 20 to 25 percent of the electorate, but youth voter turnout is not always high. These municipal elections can often come down to dozens of voters, making every single vote count — a fact that can empower voters discouraged by national elections, Nollert said. 

College student voter turnout increased from 52 percent in 2016 to 66 percent in 2020, according to a report from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education. 

Other campus organizations at the event also had similar reasons for volunteering such as engaging young voters. 

NCPIRG, a non-partisan and non-profit organization, registered UNC students to vote, helped them find resources, polling locations and related websites in the Pit on Sept. 19. The entity traditionally helps young people show up to the polls, Martha Plaehn, a volunteer for NCPIRG New Voter’s Project, said. 

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She also said NCPIRG encourages people to discuss voting because the organization believes public discourse is one of the best ways to increase voter turnout. 

For students that missed the event, SLL will hold more registration opportunities in the Pit before Election Day, Young said.

Young also said politically affiliated groups, such as the UNC Young Democrats or UNC College Republicans, will also hold registration events closer to the election.


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