It’s Election Day in Durham! Voters across the city will be heading to the polls to participate in the municipal elections. 

Steve Schewel, Trinity ‘73 and a professor of public policy at Duke, and Farad Ali, a former city council member, are facing off in the first seriously contested mayoral race in Durham in years. Two candidates each are also vying for the three ward seats on the Durham City Council.

The Chronicle put together this guide to help you figure out how to cast a ballot. 

1. Are you registered to vote?

In order to vote in Durham, you must be registered already. To check if you are registered, visit this website and type in your information. If you don’t show up in the Board of Elections system, you are likely not registered. You may still cast a provisional ballot which will register you for the next election but will probably not be counted in this election.

2. Where do I go to vote?

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Your polling place will be listed when you check your registration status. For residents of West and Central Campuses, this is the Patterson Recreation Center (2614 Crest Street). For East Campus residents, vote at George Watts Elementary School (700 Watts Street).

Students, faculty and staff who live off campus may be assigned to other precincts and should vote there. If the address on record for you is not where you currently live, look up what precinct your current address is in here. Go there and the staff will help update your registration information.



3. How do I get to the polls?

Not going to lie—getting to the Patterson Recreation Center from campus can be difficult. Your best bet will be to drive or use Uber or Lyft. Alternatively, all GoDurham buses are running fare-free. Getting to George Watts Elementary School is a short walk off East Campus. 

4. What happens when I get to the polling place?

The elections staff will ask for your name and address so that they can look up your registration. They will then have you sign a form confirming that information before giving you a ballot. You will be directed to a booth where you can fill it out in private. After you finish, you will insert the ballot into a machine to be tabulated. 

5. Who is on my ballot?

Everyone voting in Durham has the same ballot this election. You will see bubbles for you to fill in to select a candidate for mayor and one candidate for each of the three city council wards.



6. What does the mayor and city council do in Durham?

Durham has a council-manager form of organization. There are six members of the city council members and their meetings are chaired by the mayor who also has a vote. Compared to some cities, local governments in North Carolina are relatively weak. Mayors do not have broad executive powers. Still, the municipal government has some important roles in shaping the direction of the city, such as guiding the construction of a proposed light rail system, developing affordable housing programs and providing city services. 

7. Who should I vote for?

That’s up to you. The Chronicle has profiled all of the candidates and many local organizations have released their endorsements. There are only eight candidates in total, so it shouldn’t take that long to do your research.

Steve Schewel

Farad Ali

City Council candidates

8. Should I vote in Durham?

Again, that’s your decision. If it’s any help, Schewel told The Chronicle how he sees the decision:

“If you think to yourself that you’re not really a Durham resident and you don’t really care about Durham, then you shouldn’t vote,” Schewel said. “But if you’re committed to Durham and you think of yourself during your time here as a Durham resident in your four years here, then voting should be important.”