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Early voting kicks off at Duke

Members of the Durham community vote at the polls in a previous election. Early voting at an on-campus Duke site starts Thursday.
Members of the Durham community vote at the polls in a previous election. Early voting at an on-campus Duke site starts Thursday.

The North Carolina early voting period begins today, and Durham County residents are able to vote on campus.

Duke Student Government and administrators have taken measures to make voting in the 2012 general election in North Carolina convenient for the Duke community. Those who are already registered to vote in Durham County may cast their ballot in the Old Trinity Room in the West Union Building at the one-stop early voting site.

Voters are not required to bring identification if they are already registered, according to the state board of elections. It is recommended, however, that those who are voting for the first time at a given address—such as freshman living on East Campus­—bring a valid form of identification. Student identification cards are accepted along with a document from the University showing the student’s name and current address.

Although the regular registration deadline has passed, students who are not yet registered or are registered in their home state but would prefer to vote in North Carolina, may register in Durham County and vote in the same visit to the one-stop early voting site, University Registrar Bruce Cunningham wrote in an email Tuesday. Students who wish to register in this manner must bring proof of University residence if they live on campus or proof of Durham County residence if they live off campus, as well as a valid form of identification, which includes DukeCards, he added.

“For many of you, this may be your first opportunity to vote in a presidential election,” said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, in a September email to the student body. “Voting is one of the most important rights we hold as Americans. I urge you to exercise your right and vote.”

The one-stop early voting site will be open from Thursday, Oct. 18 until Saturday, Nov. 3. Regular voting will resume on Tuesday, Nov. 6, but the campus voting site will not be open on Election Day. Moneta added that the voting site makes it so there is “no excuse” for students to not exercise their right to vote.

Days and hours for the campus early voting site in the Old Trinity Room, West Union

Oct. 18-20: 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 21: 12 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 22-27: 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 28: 12 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 29-Nov. 2: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Nov. 3: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

An on-campus one-stop voting site was first available for the 2008 general election, where approximately 9,300 votes were cast, according to the Durham County Board of Elections, the organization that has been responsible for approving the site each time it has been present on campus.

Most recently, the on-campus option was available for the May 2012 primary elections, in which a controversial anti-same-sex marriage amendment passed in North Carolina despite heavy dissent in Durham County and on Duke’s campus. More than 2,000 ballots were cast at the on-campus site this May. Sophomore Derek Rhodes, DSG vice president for Durham and regional affairs, said he worked with the county board of elections in August to bring the early voting site to campus.

Because of positive feedback from the Duke community concerning the ease and efficiency of the on-campus voting site—as well as the high-profile nature of the general election—it has been brought to campus again by a Duke Student Government effort, said DSG President Alex Swain, a senior.

Other student groups—including the Black Student Alliance, Duke College Republicans, Duke Democrats, Duke Partnership for Service, Duke Political Union and Duke the Vote—have organized with DSG to collectively host four non-partisan events to encourage Duke students to vote, Rhodes said.

“All of these student groups are really excited about the election and the role Duke students can have in determining its outcome,” he said. “These groups made a conscious effort to bring the voting site to campus.”

Rhodes, who spearheaded the effort to bring the early voting site back to campus, added that the coalition of organizations will hold an early voting celebration event, another event that will facilitate and encourage freshmen to register to vote on East Campus, a mock debate and a general election results viewing party. This is the first non-partisan alliance of student groups working toward voter registration and turnout in a general election at Duke, he said.

“Everyone should get out and vote early,” Swain said. “It’s very simple and easy to do. This is a really important election—and being civically engaged, something we talk so often about in our classes, means voting.”


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