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Campus site to simplify voting process

Although North Carolina’s May 8 primary election is three days after the official end of the semester, members of the Duke community can head to the polls starting today.

The University will host an on-campus early voting site located in the Old Trinity Room in the West Union Building, adjacent to the Alumni Lounge, today through May 5. There, students, faculty and administrators can vote in the open presidential primary and various state and local races, as well as for or against the controversial Amendment One—a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

Anyone who has been a Durham County resident for at least 30 days can both register and vote on the same visit to the on-campus early voting site, said junior Alex Swain, Duke Student Government vice president of Durham and regional affairs and DSG president-elect. Additionally, students currently registered in another state will be able to reregister and vote on-site. Anyone registered in Durham County can vote at the Duke site regardless of the location of their home precinct.

“It’s in our mission to encourage social responsibility, and the University has been very supportive of this mission,” said Swain, who was integral in bringing the early voting site to campus.

The first time Duke hosted an on-campus voting site was for the 2008 general election, Swain noted. The site was brought to campus when Gunther Peck, associate professor of public policy and history, noticed that Duke was not planning for an on-campus site unlike several nearby schools.

This year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University will also host on-campus early voting sites.

DSG’s Durham and regional affairs committee will promote the voting site by posting flyers around campus, advertising on social media and speaking directly to students, said freshman Derek Rhodes, senator for Durham and regional affairs.

“We will do everything we can to ensure that all students are aware not only that there is an on-campus voting site but that voting is actually a quick and easy process,” Rhodes said.

Several Duke organizations are encouraging others to vote against Amendment One at the on-campus early voting site. The University and Duke Medicine released a joint statement Feb. 17 declaring their support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the wake of the amendment. Duke College Republicans, Duke Democrats and Blue Devils United jointly outlined why all political parties should oppose the amendment in a letter to the editor published in The Chronicle April 16.

“As Republicans, we should believe that the government doesn’t have a role to play at all in marriage,” said DCR Chair Taylor Imperiale, a sophomore. “Amendment One is further entangling government in marriage—that is the opposite of what we’d like to see happen. I certainly hope that people will go out and vote against the amendment.”

Rhodes added that there is no excuse for members of the Duke community not to vote, given the convenience and ease of the one-stop early voting site. Although the committee does not have a goal number for voter turnout, he noted the importance of exercising the right to vote. With substantial student turnout, the more likely it is that the Durham County Board of Election’s will grant the University an on-campus voting site again in the future.

“Our T-shirts, Facebook statuses and posters are all great,” he noted. “But, at the end of the day, it comes down to the vote.”

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