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Vote in North Carolina. Pretty please.

One of the best parts of being a Duke student is having a free subscription to the New York Times. Seriously, I am obsessed with it. If you have not yet taken advantage of this life-changing Duke student perk, I encourage you to do so immediately. Here is the link in case you are interested. Now, once you’ve signed up for the New York Times (Did I mention it’s free if you’re a Duke student?), I strongly recommend reading Opinion writer and Sanford School of Public Policy professor Frank Bruni’s appropriately titled piece “One of America’s Most Seductive States Is Also One of Its Scariest.” 

Which politically seductive yet terrifying state is Bruni talking about, you ask? Indeed, if you decided against reading Bruni’s piece in its totality, here is the SparkNotes answer: It’s North Carolina, home state of Duke University, where the majority of the Chronicle’s readership attends classes and lives for most of the calendar year. As Bruni grapples with North Carolina’s fierce partisan divide in relation to the fast-approaching midterm elections, he wonders, “will Republicans capitalize on inflation and successfully caricature Democrats to a point where they win big in the midterms and also exploit that victory to shore up their power well into the future? Is a mix of right-wing warriors this bellicose and progressives this determined even governable?” In a state that simultaneously voted for a Republican president and Democratic governor in 2020, arguably anything is possible.

As one of only several North Carolina universities where the majority of the student body does not originate from within the state, Duke holds a unique position to contribute thousands of young, diverse voters to the electorate. To exemplify the kind of impact that Duke could make, remember that only approximately 15% of the undergraduate student population calls North Carolina home. With a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,883, minus the 10% who are international students, we are left with 6,195 potential North Carolina voters, if my iPhone Calculator mathematics are correct. While local Durham County stands out as a Democratic stronghold, the same cannot be said of state politics at-large. With a win margin of just 1.34% in the 2020 General Presidential Election, the narrowest victory in all 50 states, North Carolina is an aggressively deep shade of purple.

As explained by my fellow Student Voices columnist Miranda Straubel, the consequences of the upcoming midterm elections to the future of North Carolina cannot be understated. The party in power is a mere five seats away from having the ability to overrule any Governor Veto they wish. When considering the hypothetical implications of this happening, I fear the potential loss of fundamental human rights that would ensue. To name drop just a few, think reproductive autonomy, loss of voting justice through increased gerrymandering, lack of financial support for K-12 public education, and the list goes on.

Therefore, as the clock strikes midnight on September 20th, marking the end of National Voter Registration Day (which uncoincidentally is when this piece is being published), my ask for you is this: Vote in North Carolina this midterm election season. Pretty please. I know that there are big elections happening across the country this November, however, I implore you to take time to look into where your vote would matter more. Where could you make a bigger difference? Although North Carolina may not be your home state, it is home to over 10 million other people, including myself, as well as all of the future Blue Devils who will one day call Duke University and Durham home. 

In an election year without a presidential decision on the ballot, the impact a Duke student’s vote could make is even larger. In 2014, the last time a US Senator was elected from North Carolina during a midterm election cycle, only 44% of eligible North Carolinians cast their ballot. Compare this to the 2020 Presidential Election year, where an unprecedented 75% of North Carolinians voted, and you can see how your vote could make an even bigger splash in a cycle with no Presidential power up for grabs.

To build excitement in preparation for General Election Day on November 8, Duke is planning its fair slew of democracy-centered events to celebrate the season. This includes Duke’s first-ever Democracy Day, which is set for October 20th. Sponsored by the Sanford School’s Polis Center for Politics, Democracy Day will kick off the early voting season, which lasts from October 20 to November 5. This year, Duke students will have the opportunity to take advantage of same-day registration and vote on campus during early voting at the Karsh Alumni Center’s polling site. 

In preparation for Democracy Day and the days to follow it, I urge you to make your voting plan now. Add important dates to your Outlook calendar. Register to vote online or at the BC Plaza as nonpartisan canvassing groups table over the coming weeks. Request an absentee ballot if you’d prefer to vote by mail. View your personalized sample ballot so you can research relevant races. Honestly, it couldn’t be easier to take authority over your democratic autonomy and make an impact by choosing to vote in North Carolina this fall. 

The next time you’re in WU waiting on a mobile order during lunch rush hour, take a moment to deep dive into the partisan margin differences between your home state and North Carolina. With this in mind, determine if you should register to vote here, a state where your vote can genuinely tip the scales. I promise you it will take less time than a Mobile Order crepe from Cafe. All you need are the links in this article.

Chloe is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs on alternate Wednesdays.


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