Preserve the Early Voting Site Near UNC

The Orange County Board of Elections will be deciding on Tuesday, August 7th on whether to move the one-stop early voting site from UNC's campus to the Seymour Senior Center off Homestead Road.

We have the following objections to the proposed move:

1. The Seymour Senior Center creates a significant impediment to voting for students, faculty, staff and the many community members that live/work in and around downtown.
2. Moving the site away from campus will adversely impact student engagement in the upcoming election.
3. With the passage of the same-day voter registration bill, more students are likely to vote this fall. Moving the site will hurt these efforts.
4. If we want to encourage students to take an interest or an active role in their community, we should not making voting inaccessible to many who cannot make it to the Seymour Center.
5. Many faculty and staff that work on or near campus benefit from having a central voting site on campus.
6. A better location can be found that will benefit both students and residents of Chapel Hill.

If you would like to support our efforts to prevent the voting site from moving to the Seymour Senior Center, please sign the following petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/BOEVOTE/petition.html

The Board of Elections will meet on August 7, 2007 at 4:00 pm at the board of election office 110 E. King St. in Hillsborough to make its final decision. To learn more about this issue you can check out the student government blog at: www.unc.edu/studgov

One possible alternatives to the Seymour Senior Center is the Franklin St. Post Office. Please share any other ideas you all may have.

Please call the BOE today and tell them you support either an on-campus site or another site in the downtown area: (919) 245-2350

Issues: 

Total votes: 108

Comments

I have learned that Board of Elections will be considering placing an early voting site at the Franklin Street Post Office. I don't know all the details yet, but understand that this option is under serious consideration.

I think that's a great proposal. In fact, that would probably be better than Morehead for visibility to both students and everyone else.

Besides the historic resonance from the front plaza, candidates will have a nice place to throw up a table and palaver with voters...

actually, the front plaza will probably be too close to the PO entrance to allow candidate tables during early voting.

Gerry, if the P.O. was selected (great suggestion by Andrea), I was planning to ask the BOE to make available an adjacent area under the provisions of the law. I walked off the dimensions and it appears 30' would allow folks to place tables in such a way as to not impede foot traffic.

I'm no lawyer, so maybe I'm not reading the statute correctly but it does seem possible:

§ 163-166.4. Limitation on activity in the voting place and
in a buffer zone around it.

(a) Buffer Zone and Adjacent Area for Election-Related Activity. - No person or group of persons shall hinder access, harass others, distribute campaign literature, place political advertising, solicit votes, or
otherwise engage in election-related activity in the voting
place or in a buffer zone which shall be prescribed by the
county board of elections around the voting place. In
determining the dimensions of that buffer zone for each voting place, the county board of elections shall, where practical, set the limit at 50 feet from the door of entrance to the voting place, measured when that door is closed, but in no event shall it set the limit at more than 50 feet or at less than 25 feet.

Except as provided in subsection (b), the county board of elections shall also provide an area adjacent to the buffer zone for each voting place in which persons or groups of persons may distribute campaign literature, place political advertising, solicit votes, or otherwise engage in election-related activity

However, if they obstruct or interferer, they can be removed or arrested. See GS 163-48

Of course, maybe folks don't want GOTV or poll workers posted downtown....

if 30 feet works, make sure to ask the BoE to allow 30 feet! Good catch, Will.

The Board of Elections is meeting about this matter right now. Vice Provost Allred was there to speak on this matter, as were the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, and undergraduate student representative (whose name I did not catch) and I. All 4 speakers uniformly agreed that the Franklin Street Post Office was the best choice (given that the Planetarium was out of the picture).

Board of Elections staff said that the Town of Chapel Hill has indicated that it will help provide parking in the Wallace parking deck and some parking along streets adjacent to the Post Office. The building is wheelchair accessible. The Post Office is a familiar landmark for most folks - whether students or not. It is also very accessible to a lot of people by foot, bike or public transportation.

The Board of Elections had not made a decision by the time I had to leave, but they seemed very interested in the concerns being rasied by the speakers. It sounded as though they were disposed to choose the Post Office as one of the early voting sites.

Although there was no discussion of WillR's suggestion about the 30 foot rule (did not see that post until after I left there). There was some discussion about the standard 50 foot rule and the BOE staff indicated that there would be room for candidates etc. to campaign on the plaza out front even with the 50 foot boundary in place.

This will be really great for the extremely few who turn out, if I have followed the thread correctly. Meantime the seniors are left out?? I hope they are more vocal than the Rogers Road community! They pay taxes, too.

JMK, the seniors are not left out. I assume that the BOE
will decide to use both the old post office and the
senior center.

But let's assume that they don't, and only the old post office
is used, plus of course Carrboro Town Hall and the BOE
office in Hillsborough. This means that the situation remains
(almost) exactly as been the case for the last dozen years.
The BOE cannot be in the position of favoring one population
over another; they must enhance voting for everyone
as equally as is practically possible, and according to state
law. To me this means that early voting should be
provided where the voting-age people are, people of all voting
ages. There are many times the number of people at
the corner of Franklin and Henderson than there are
on Homestead Road.

Due to the precinct map and polling place locations, the majority of on-campus students lack an accessible polling place for election day. Most on-campus students don't have cars, and the routes to polling places are long and unfamiliar to students. The Morehead site, and now the PO, is the only chance they have to vote. Seniors have much more accessible polling places on election day.

Right.

The site will indeed be at the Post Office.

The students at UNC ran quite an impressive campaign on this issue, building support among local leaders and not impugning the motives of the BOE when it looked like the Senior Center was the way it was headed. Keeping it positive was key.

Barry Garner and the members of the Board of Elections likewise really acted in good faith and went the extra mile to find a solution everyone could be pretty happy with.

It was also great to see so many local leaders speak out in support of a downtown/campus site and for the town to be willing to make it work with the Post Office.

This really was a constructive, well done process all around. Congratulations to all who were involved.

Don't forget Andrea's constructive suggestion Tom.

Lots of people involved with a good outcome. Does anyone know if the ESS issue that precludes superprecincts came up?

Let's hope that the efforts of the student leaders will increse the turnout this year. From the comments in the N&O, it doesn't sound like the BOE folks expect much of a turnout this election, but more in 2008.

 

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