North Carolina’s midterm elections are fast approaching. Registered voters will be able to cast their ballots in person on Election Day, Nov. 8.
On the ballot this election cycle in North Carolina is one U.S. Senate seat, 14 U.S. House seats, and a number of state positions such as those in the General Assembly, Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, as well as several local and county offices.
The process of registration and voting itself can be “really confusing,” said Gunther Peck, associate professor of history and public policy.
Campus organizations such as Duke Votes, a non-partisan student run organization, work to guide students through the registration process.
“The easiest way to get registered is to stop by one of our tables, we'll get it done for you in three minutes. We'll turn in the form for you, super easy,” said senior Jonah Perrin, Duke Votes chair. “The state of North Carolina passes a lot of laws that make it harder for students to vote because they don't want students to vote.”
Perrin said that Duke Votes exists to help students “decipher” those laws.
How can students register to vote in North Carolina?
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 14. Those with an existing North Carolina driver’s license or an NC DMV-issued ID can register online.
First-time North Carolina voters may print out voter registration applications and submit them by mail to their county board of elections. The Duke Votes website offers sample registration forms to assist with filling out the form depending on whether you live on East Campus or West Campus.
Students living on campus should pay special attention to the residential and mailing addresses they write on the registration form. East Campus residents should put “1 Duke University East Campus” as their residential address, according to the sample ballots from Duke Votes. West Campus residents should put “1 Duke University West Campus.” All on-campus students should use their Duke PO box number as their mailing address.
Eligible voters can also register at the polling site during the early voting period.
In addition to completing an application, a voter must show an identifying document providing proof of residency, such as an NC driver’s license, a utility bill or a photo ID from a government agency.
College students need to bring their university ID paired with “any document originating with the educational institution and containing the student’s name and on-campus housing address or facility name,” according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
How can I register in my home state?
Students are able to register to vote in the state in which they attend college even if that is not their home state, according to Duke Votes. Students may also choose to vote in their home state.
Each state requires different guidelines and deadlines for voter registration. To register to vote in your home state, Duke TurboVote makes the process easier by combining the online voter registration and ballot request process.
How can students vote by mail?
On Sept. 9, the Board of Elections began to make absentee ballots accessible. Those that intend to vote by mail should request their ballot as soon as possible. The last day to submit an absentee ballot request form is Nov. 1.
A voter must request a mail-in ballot and complete and sign it in the presence of a witness. The voter can then either mail it to the county board of elections by Election Day or drop it off at an approved polling site during the early voting period.
When does early voting start?
Early voting will start on Oct. 20 and will last until 3 p.m. on Nov. 5, the Sunday before Election Day.
On weekdays, early voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Saturdays early voting is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sundays early voting is open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
There are eight early voting sites across Durham County.
Duke’s on-campus early voting site is located at the Karsh Alumni Center. The address is 2080 Duke University Road and students can access Karsh on the C1 bus route.
Where are the polling locations?
A master list published by the Durham County Board of Elections lists over 50 Election Day polling locations within the area.
On Election Day, registered voters must vote at their assigned polling site. Voters can find their Election Day polling place by searching their address into the Polling Place Search.
Students registered at the 1 Duke University West Campus residential address will vote at W.I. Patterson Recreation Center. Students registered at the 1 Duke University East Campus residential address will vote at the George Watts Elementary School.
According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, polling places will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m on Election Day. Voters in line at their assigned polling place by 7:30 p.m. are allowed to cast their vote.
Why should students vote?
“It is in midterm elections where the national agendas are really set for the general elections,” said Peck. “And if you think about politics and democracy being about the issues first, rather than the candidates first, you see the issues and their consequences more clearly in the midterms. That's historically been true.”
In 2020, North Carolina youth turned out in an “above-average voting rate” of 55%, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. In the 2022 Senate race, CIRCLE has ranked North Carolina among the top ten states with most potential for youth electoral significance.
“When you think about all of the political issues that are being decided right now, that will affect not just all of us, but also young people. It's simply a matter of justice and fairness that young people speak their minds and have a role,” said Peck. “Even if they don't win an election, [it is important] that they be heard.”
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