Orange County Board of Elections Talks Early Voting on Campus

Travis Crayton's picture

The Orange County Board of Elections met today to discuss early voting sites for the 2014 elections and beyond.

At the heart of the discussion today was what an on-campus voting site at UNC could be. In other parts of the state, such as Watauga and Pasquotank counties, students have seen their voting rights undermined through the loss of on-campus voting sites and challenges to student residency. While no such issues have emerged yet in Orange County, there has been some speculation that the Republican-majority Orange County Board of Elections might not maintain an on-campus voting site for UNC students for upcoming elections.

However, that speculation seems to have been brought to an end today, when Board Chair Kathy Knight said emphatically, "This board is not Watauga [County]." As the live tweets from today's meeting (below) show, it appears the Board of Elections is committed to having an early voting site on campus. The Board did not make any final decisions on voting sites today, but finalists for the on-campus site appear to include Cobb Residence Hall, Hillel, and the Stone Center.

I'm relieved and refreshed to see a commitment from our Board of Elections to maintaining a student voting site despite trends elsewhere in our state. I hope we see that commitment maintained well into the future, and I hope UNC students understand the importance of exercising their right to vote at the early voting site.

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Total votes: 12

10 Comments

I've been sitting in on BOE

I've been sitting in on BOE meetings since last March. It is a good group of people who have worked well together for some time. Our new chair, Kathy Knight, is certified in election law. Her first words after being sworn in as chair were, we are here to serve the voters of Orange County not a partisan political purpose. I've never seen or heard anything that would indicate a lack of fairness on the part of the board.

 The board has been discussing an on-campus early vote site for quite some time and actively soliciting in-put from the community. I have also solicited suggestions, via FB & Twitter, as has Matt Hughes.

I have also sought people willing to volunteer with the BOE in the next election to help those restricted to rehab or nursing homes request an absentee ballot, and then to be part of a 2-person team that helps them fill them out, providing the required witnesses to their signature. The teams need to be one Dem and one Republican and will only be needed when the BOE receives a request for such services. If you are interested, you can email the Director, Treacy Reams, at treams@orangecountync.gov.   

Counties that have had partisan BOE issues are areas where there is a 'liberal' college population within a conservative community. We are a liberal college population in a liberal community. As Don Yeltin said about college students when he spoke right after me to the NCGA House committee looking at the voter id bill, 'We don't want them to vote because they don't vote the way we want them to.'   A large part of our county community isn't bothered by the student vote so we have escaped that type of disagreement.

In addition, our House, Senate and Congressional districts are so tightly packed with Dems that those election results are just about guaranteed. Student votes will help make a difference in the US Senate race and in other offices where a state-wide tally of Dem votes can determine a winner.

The Board is going to visit Cobb and Stone next week. Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for additional early vote sites for 2016, as the law requires early vote be available a certain amout of hours which will necessitate opening a greater number of facilities. Requirements are a room that can be locked overnight (to secure the voting machines) and dedicated to the purpose of voting for the entire period of early vote. Wifi, so staff can access necessary data. Handicapped access and parking, as well as parking for the non-handicapped and a place for curb-side voting. 

Students walk or take the bus to the Smith Center

From the dorms on Country Club Rd to the Smith Center, students and a lot of them, have found a way to get to the game.  If students can figure out how to go almost 1 1/2 miles (Country Club Rd to Smith Center), they should be able to figure out how to get to the early voting site regardless of where it is.

gercohen's picture

Danelle great suggestion

Danelle, games at the Smith Center are a great anaology.  We can implement this by having 10,000 students enter an online voting lottery to see who gets one of the several thousand voting spots.  Then we could have students come to the polling place four hours early in the snow then line up to see which students in Voting Phase I will actually get into vote.  Some students with Voting Phase II tickets will get in later. Then once inside the early voting site the student voters can wait several hours for voting to actually start. If this is too burdensome for student voters there will be special site called StubVote where students can buy the right to vote, paying between $90 and $2,000.  There will be about 600 voting spots up for sale. The $2,000 voter can sit courtside and vote first!

There's no lottery in voting

The difference I'm seeing is, there is no lottery with voting:  if you are "in line at closing time" you are allowed to vote.  Nobody can buy an advantage. The game happened in 1 night while in order to vote, students have several days to work that into their schedule.  Now, AFTER the game last night, how many STUDENTS found their way 1 1/2 miles from the SMITH CENTER?  Granted, not all these students were inside the center; however, these THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS ON FRANKLIN STREET PROVES MY POINT:  IF SOMETHING IS IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO THEM, THEY WILL MAKE THE EFFORT AND FIGURE IT OUT.  

Damon Seils's picture

Carrboro resolution

Carrboro alderwoman Jacquie Gist introduced, and the board unanimously adopted, the resolution below on February 18. Note the point it makes about an early voting site on campus being important for employees also. This isn't just about students.

A Resolution Supporting an Early Voting Site on the Campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel HillWHEREAS, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) has a student population of 29,000 and a faculty/staff population of 11,900, many of whom are residents of Orange County; and WHEREAS, transportation and parking policies adopted by UNC-CH were done so with the intention of reducing traffic on campus, and to urge the use of alternative means of transportation such as riding the bus, walking or biking by students, faculty and staff; andWHEREAS, these policies were adopted with the support of the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill for many laudable reasons, including the reduction of greenhouse gases and less impervious surface for parking, as well as increased health benefits; and WHEREAS, these policies have the effect of less off-campus mobility throughout the workday for students, faculty and staff; and WHEREAS, students, faculty and staff at UNC-CH have the fundamental right to participate in their government through the voting process; andWHEREAS, since the implementation of early voting in North Carolina, there has often been an early voting site on the campus of UNC-CH, as there has been at most universities in North Carolina; and WHEREAS, the Orange County Board of Elections (BOE) is currently considering where to hold early voting during the spring 2014 voting cycle, and is still trying to decide on a location for a site at UNC; andWHEREAS, the Orange County BOE has already confirmed three other locations for early voting in Orange County; these include the BOE office in Hillsborough, Town Hall in Carrboro, and the Seymour Senior Center in Chapel Hill; and WHEREAS, the major concern for the BOE as to a location on the UNC-CH campus is thought to be the lack of parking for persons who desire to park and vote at this site; and WHEREAS, even if parking is somewhat limited on campus, the accessibility of so many students, faculty and staff to this voting site outweighs the parking consideration, especially as there are two nearby locations with ample parking for early voting; NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Carrboro Board of Aldermen urges the Orange County Board of Elections to include an early voting site on the campus of UNC-CH.

Carrboro already has their own site

I'm sure the board of elections appreciates this but why does the town of Carrboro feel the need to "adopt a resolution" supporting something that the board of elections is trying to decide on OUTSIDE OF THE JURISDICTION OF CARRBORO?  Does Carrboro also need to "adopt a resolution" for any/all other sites that the elections board agree on?

gercohen's picture

most Carrboro residents in fact

I bet a MAJORITY of Carrboro residents or are UNC or UNC Hospitals faculty or staff, which means they spend most of the day on campus. So an early voting site accesible to them during the day is very relevant to Carrboro Danelle. My son's fiancee is a Carrboro resident who is in med school and has no car on campus. I am glad Carrboro Town government is lookig out for her interests