Undergraduate and graduate student groups have asked administration to establish an on-campus voting site for next spring’s primary election.

Duke Student Government and Duke Graduate and Professional Student Council recently passed resolutions asking administration to create a voting site that is on campus and easily accessible to students. The resolutions came after last week’s local elections in which students were forced to vote at off-campus locations.

“It’s been in the pipeline for a while,” said freshman Nia Moore, senator for Durham and regional affairs, who introduced the DSG legislation with sophomore Liz Brown, also a senator for Durham and regional affairs. “We’ve been trying to find ways to increase turnout, especially by engaging groups on campus like Duke Political Union, Duke Democrats and Duke [College] Republicans.”

The resolution, which passed in DSG Senate unanimously last Wednesday, had the support of DPU, Duke Democrats, Duke College Republicans, Duke Libertarians, Democracy Now, Duke Political Review and Duke YOUnite.

The University has played host to a voting site for past elections, including the 2012 presidential and congressional elections, explained junior Tanner Lockhead, vice president for Durham and regional affairs.

Lockhead noted that one of the first steps of the process is to convince administration that an on-campus polling location would receive support from the Durham County Board of Elections and benefit students.

“The Durham County Board of Elections has been very supportive of an on-campus voting site in the past,” he said. “We have to convince the University that it’s something that students and the community want.”

One challenge facing the proposal is the lack of a designated on-campus location for polls, Lockhead said.

He also explained that it is harder to get administrative support for a primary election voting site.

“Administration is on board with the 2016 presidential election,” he said. “Getting support for the a site for the primary has been more difficult.”

The GPSC resolution supports the creation of the site due to the fact that North Carolina state laws have recently reduced early voting periods, eliminated simultaneous voting and registration and strengthened voter identification and registration requirements.

The GPSC resolution was introduced by Travis Knoll, a Ph.D. student in the history department.

“This resolution highlights the urgency of making voting accessible to the broader student population,” he wrote in an email. “At a time where voting restrictions are tightening in North Carolina, on-campus voting is essential to help us more easily comply with the reduced early voting periods as well as to send a strong message that we students and professionals are concerned about exercising our rights and willing to do our part to fulfill our civic responsibility.”

GPSC President Abbe LaBella, a Ph.D. student in genetics and genomics, explained that an on-campus voting site would permit both students and faculty to vote without neglecting their other responsibilities.

“Duke students, both graduate and undergraduate, as well as administrators and staff have schedules packed with important commitments,” she said. “An on-campus voting site will help many individuals vote without sacrificing other duties.”

She added that it is in students’ interests to vote for candidates who will represent them at a time when student loan debt is the second highest source of personal debt—trailing only mortgages.

Lockhead said it is the University’s responsibility to help students vote.

“If Duke’s mission is service to society, it’s important to create an atmosphere of student engagement and without a voting site, that doesn’t exist,” he said. “It’s an obligation of the university to create both the culture and access [to a voting station].”

Aleena Karediya contributed reporting.