You Can Vote

The new voting laws cut Early Voting by one week, removed out-of-precinct voting on election day, and require people to bring a specific type of ID to the polls.  Many of the rules are pending Federal Court decision, generating mass confusion in the community on what is and is not required. This is why it is critical to have volunteers out in our communities getting everyone educated and registered so they can successfully cast their ballot this year.

This is where the YOU CAN VOTE campaign comes in. You Can Vote is a grassroots, nonpartisan, volunteer coalition here in the Triangle area. We register people so they CAN vote. We make sure citizens know how to navigate the ID requirements so they CAN vote. We help  voters go to the right polling place so they CAN vote. We help people VOTE BY MAIL so they don’t have to worry about going to the right polling place or having to show photo ID.

A lot of people feel overwhelmed and defeated by the new law. We believe it is our civic duty to find these citizens and to help them participate in our democracy. The more people who participate, the better leaders we will elect. But we need your help.

We can train you or your constituencies to help us find those who will need information on how to successfully vote in 2016.  If you want to help with this effort, please sign up on our website, YOUCANVOTE.ORG.


— Barbara Middleton-Foushee

Endorsements Roll Out As Early Voting Begins

Just in time for voters to head to the polls, the Orange-Chatham chapter of the Sierra Club and the alt weekly publication INDYweek have unveiled their endorsements in the Chapel Hill mayoral and town council races.

The Sierra Club is backing a slate of incumbents, plus first-time candidate Michael Parker. The environmental advocacy group says Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, and council members Donna Bell, Lee Storrow and Jim Ward “have voting records and stated priorities for smart growth, with moderate-density mixed use development that will support walkability and bike-ability, as well as transit improvements.” They also cite Parker’s work on the Planning Commission and support of light rail.

INDYweek took a slightly different tack, endorsing Kleinschmidt, Bell, Ward, Parker, and newcomer Jessica Anderson, but shying away from incumbent Lee Storrow in light of his recent DWI conviction.

Though his legal troubles may have cost him the influential INDY endorsement, Storrow issued a press release citing 32 current and former Orange County elected officials who publicly support his bid for a second term.

The Daily Tar Heel released endorsements on Thursday morning, supporting Mark Kleinschmidt for Mayor with Donna Bell, Michael Parker, Lee Storrow and Jim Ward for Town Council.

The early voting period for the 2015 municipal and school board elections kicks off Thursday and runs through October 31. You can find a full list of voting sites and hours here.

University and community leaders are hosting an event at the Chapel of the Cross on East Franklin Street at 5 o’clock Thursday to celebrate the start of early voting.

UNC Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Winston Crisp, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Carolina Student Body President Houston Summers will make brief remarks before casting their ballots. The public is invited to attend.

Early Voting Sites Selected for October

Four sites have been chosen to host early voting for this fall’s municipal elections.

The Orange County Board of Elections has chosen three satellite early-voting sites along with the headquarters in Hillsborough for residents to vote this fall.

Chapel of the Cross, on East Franklin Street, will serve as one voting location. Chapel Hill Town Council member Lee Storrow says he is happy the board chose a location close to UNC.

“I’m actually really excited and supportive of this shift to Chapel of the Cross,” he says. “I think it’s a good location. It’s really close to Morehead Planetarium, which several years ago was a very successful early-voting site.

“Unfortunately, because of some renovations and changes in that building, Morehead is no longer available to be an early-voting site.”

Storrow adds this will allow the Carolina community and residents in a higher foot traffic area around Chapel Hill to have an easily accessible site to voice their opinion.

“I think it’s vital that we have a location accessible to the students, faculty, and staff at UNC-Chapel Hill,” he says. “It’s my long-term hope that we can create a consistent site; that it’s not changing every couple of years.

“I think Chapel of the Cross might provide us with that opportunity to create a really consistent site.”

Storrow says recent action by the North Carolina legislature only increases the need for a voting site near campus.

“The General Assembly changed the law several years ago to not allow out-of-precinct voting,” he says. “If we truly care, and want, and expect that all residents of our community are going to participate in the election and have access to participate in the election, means that having an early-voting location that’s either on campus or adjacent to campus is really vital.”

The out-of-precinct voting restriction only applies on Election Day, not to early voting.

Early voting will begin on Thursday, October 22, and finish up on Saturday, October 31. The Board of Elections office in Hillsborough will be open for early voting Monday through Friday from nine o’clock to six o’clock and on both Saturdays from nine o’clock until one in the afternoon.

The satellite locations will be at Chapel of the Cross, Carrboro Town Hall, and the Seymour Center, on Homestead Road. These locations will all be open for voting from noon until seven o’clock Monday through Thursday, noon until six on Friday, and nine until one o’clock on both Saturdays.

Storrow says he is hopeful the 2016 election will include Sunday voting hours.

The ballot this fall will include nine candidates for four seats on the Chapel Hill Town Council, three candidates for Chapel Hill Mayor, eight candidates for four seats on the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School board, and five hopefuls for three seats on the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners.

Early Voting Turnout Way Up From 2010

The early voting period ended on Saturday, with turnout in Orange County significantly higher than in the last midterm in 2010.

After a spike in turnout on the last two days, when all was said and done, a total of 23,195 Orange County residents cast early ballots this year. To put that into perspective: in the last midterm four years ago, about 16,500 voters cast early ballots – and that was when the early voting period was significantly longer.

Saturday saw the highest daily turnout, with 3256 voters casting ballots – including nearly a thousand at the Seymour Center alone. Bad weather often has a negative effect on turnout, but the rain held off for most of the day on Saturday.

Local political expert Gerry Cohen reported on Facebook that turnout was up across the state too: statewide, there was a 25 percent increase in Democratic turnout, a 5 percent increase in Republican turnout, and a 45 percent increase in turnout among Libertarians and unaffiliated voters. And there was also a big spike in turnout among African-American voters: up about 45 percent from 2010.

See a full breakdown of early voting numbers in Orange County.

Election Day itself is Tuesday, November 4.

Early Voting Still Strong In Orange County

If you haven’t voted early yet, you only have a couple more more days.

Early voting continues through Saturday at five locations in Orange County. So far, turnout has been brisk: on Wednesday, 2348 residents cast their ballots early. About the same number of people cast early ballots on Monday and Tuesday as well.

Through the first six days of the nine-day early voting period, Orange County saw 13,939 votes cast. That puts Orange County on track to end the early voting period with close to 21,000 ballots.

View a breakdown of early voting totals in Orange County, by day and location.

To put that into perspective: during the last midterm election, in 2010, only about 16,500 voters cast ballots early in Orange County – and that was with a significantly longer early-voting period.

There are five early voting locations in Orange County: the Board of Elections office in downtown Hillsborough; Master’s Garden Preschool, also in Hillsborough; Carrboro Town Hall; NC Hillel on Cameron Avenue in downtown Chapel Hill, just off campus; and the Seymour Center on Homestead Road.

Click here for a full list of locations and hours of operation.

Early Voting Turnout Still High In OC

Only three days remain for early voting this year, and turnout at the polls is still consistently high in Orange County.

On Tuesday, Day 5 of the early voting period, 2433 Orange County residents cast their ballots – almost exactly the same as Monday’s total. Through the first five days, 11,591 Orange County residents have cast early ballots – putting Orange County on track to end with about 21,000 early votes cast, if the trends hold.

See a complete day-by-day breakdown of votes cast by location.

To put that into perspective: in the last midterm, in 2010, a total of 16,500 Orange County residents cast early ballots.

Early voting continues through Saturday at five locations in Orange County: at the Board of Elections office in Hillsborough; at Master’s Garden Preschool, also in Hillsborough; at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road in Chapel Hill; at NC Hillel in downtown Chapel Hill, on Cameron Avenue just off campus; and at Carrboro Town Hall on Main Street.

For a full list of locations and hours of operation, click here.

Election Day itself is Tuesday, November 4.

With Senate Race Still Close, Voter Turnout Is High In OC

Three days into the early voting period, turnout remains brisk across Orange County – and across the state of North Carolina.

That’s no surprise: turnout is typically lower for midterm elections, but this year all eyes are on North Carolina as the race for control of the U.S. Senate could come down to the contest between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the State House of Representatives.

Surveys show the two in a neck-and-neck race, and different pollsters have different candidates in the lead. Last week, Public Policy Polling released its latest survey, showing Hagan holding on to a slim three-point lead, with Libertarian Sean Haugh polling about 5 percent and a sizable number of voters still undecided.

See the full results from PPP.

And we’re not alone. All over the country, more and more surveys are showing more and more races coming down to the wire – which means it’s still entirely unclear who’s going to be celebrating come Election Day.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke with Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen last week.


As for voter turnout: in the first three days of the nine-day early voting period, 6690 voters cast their ballots in Orange County alone. That means Orange County is on track to see about 20,000 early voters this year. To put that into perspective, about 16,500 residents cast early ballots in the last midterm, in 2010.

The Orange County Board of Elections has broken the numbers down by day and by early-voting site.

Early voting resumes today and continues through Saturday. There are five early voting sites in Orange County: the Board of Elections office in downtown Hillsborough; Master’s Garden Preschool, also in Hillsborough; the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill, just off Homestead Road; NC Hillel on Cameron Avenue in downtown Chapel Hill, just off campus; and Carrboro Town Hall on Main Street.

View a full list of polling sites and hours of operation.

The Seymour Center has seen the biggest turnout so far, with more than 2000 early voters already.

Orange County Gears Up For Early Voting

Early voting begins Thursday and runs through November 1, but the early voting period will be a week shorter than previous years due to a controversial election reform bill signed by the governor in 2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld provisions of the new law that ban same-day registration and voting out of precinct in N.C. That ruling came just a week after a lower court stuck down the provisions.

But Tracy Reams, Director of the Orange County Board of Elections, says despite the back and forth in the courts, her office has not seen an increase in calls from confused voters.

“We’ve gotten very few calls as far as voter confusion on early voting. The calls that we’ve been receiving are more asking the hours and locations.”

Nor has Reams seen an increase in requests for absentee ballots.

“We have mailed 1,000 absentee ballots out already, but that is pretty comparable to mid-term elections, so I really can’t say that there are a whole lot more than what we’ve seen in past elections.”

Voters have until 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 28 to request an absentee ballot in the Board of Elections office in Hillsborough.

Orange County residents can visit one of five early voting sites:

Board of Elections
208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough
Thursday & Friday, October 23 & October 24, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 25, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday – Friday, October 27 – October 31, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 1, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Carrboro Town Hall
301 W. Main St, Carrboro

Seymour Senior Center
2551 Homestead Rd, Chapel Hill

North Carolina Hillel
210 W. Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill

Master’s Garden Preschool
(Former St. Mary’s School) 7500 Schley Rd, Hillsborough

The above 4 sites have the following hours:
Thursday, October 23, Noon – 7 p.m.
Friday, October 24, Noon – 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 25, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday – Thursday, October 27 – October 30, Noon – 7 p.m.
Friday, October 31, Noon – 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 1, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m

All polling sites will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

OC Board of Elections Meets Tuesday to Consider More Early-Voting Hours

The Orange County Board of Elections will hear from the public Tuesday at a meeting that could determine whether early-voting hours for the fall election will be expanded on Saturday, and perhaps extended to Sunday.

“What I’m hoping is that the Board will be receptive to the idea of extending hours on Saturday – currently the hours are from 9 to 1 – to expand those hours just two or three hours so that folks have more time on Saturday in order to vote,” said Chairperson Matt Hughes of the Orange County Democratic Party.

Hughes said that while work obligations may prevent him from attending, he hopes that a fellow member of the Orange Democrats will be there at the Board of Elections to deliver a petition to expand voting hours.

Hughes said that the three-member Orange County Board of Elections, made up of two Republicans and one Democrat, is also being asked to add Sunday to the early-voting period.

“There are a lot of families where folks work six days a week,” said Hughes. “Sunday’s the only day they have off as a family to go vote.

He said there are also religious accommodations to consider.

“Particularly those of the Jewish faith, who work Monday through Friday, and then Saturday is their Sabbath,” said Hughes. “And they would like to continue to respect the Sabbath, but also exercise the right to vote.”

The early voting period for the upcoming election begins October 23 and ends November 1.

The Orange County Board of Elections is located at 208 South Cameron Street in Hillsborough. The meeting begins at 11 a.m.

You can add your name to the early-voting petition here.

Orange County Early Voting Meeting; Compass Center Volunteers

Now that the primaries are done, it’s time to start planning for the general election in November – and that means figuring out where to locate early voting sites.

The Orange County Board of Elections is holding a public meeting on Tuesday, July 22, to hear from the public on the hours and locations for the 2014 general election. Head to the meet and let officials know where you want to see early-voting sites – and when you want them open.

The meeting will take place at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Board of Elections office at 208 S. Cameron Street in Hillsborough.

If you’re looking to do good in your community, consider volunteering for the Compass Center for Women and Families.

The Compass Center is accepting applications now for people interested in working their 24-hour domestic violence hotline, being First Responders for individuals who walk into the center’s office, or being Community Educators and representing the Compass Center at events and presentations around town.

For more information, you can email – or visit them online at for more details.