Early voting for North Carolina’s primary starts today. If you attend UNCG or N.C. A&T, congrats! Your hike to a early-voting site is pretty short. For other colleges in and around Guilford County, you’ll have to make a little more effort if you want to vote before the March 3 primary.
One note before we get started: I wrote this guide for local college students and employees. But any registered (or unregistered, if you follow these instructions) voter in Guilford County can vote at UNCG, A&T or any of the 13 other early voting sites in the county. Early voting ends Feb. 29.
Got it? OK. Here are the most convenient early-voting options for local college students:
UNCG: The on-campus early voting site is the Kaplan Center for Wellness, aka the student recreation center on West Gate City Boulevard. I don’t need to tell students and employees how to get there. For visitors street parking is sometimes hard to find around the Kaplan Center, so I’d recommend the Oakland Avenue deck on Spring Garden Street. It’s about a 5-minute walk from there to the rec center.
N.C. A&T: The campus early voting site is in the Dudley Building, the one with the February One Monument out front. There's a traffic circle off of North Dudley Street with a few parking spots that might or might get you ticketed, depending on how lucky you're feeling. Other parking options: the parking deck on Laurel Street behind the library, or pick up a visitor’s pass from A&T’s parking services office. Click here for details.
Bennett College: Bennett students can walk, drive or march up Dudley Street to A&T’s Dudley Building.
Greensboro College and Elon University School of Law: The best early-voting option for the two downtown Greensboro institutions is the Old County Courthouse on West Market Street. It’s within walking distance of both schools.
Guilford College: The city’s Leonard Recreation Center on Ballinger Road is about a 5-minute drive from campus.
GTCC: From the main campus in Jamestown, head over to Jamestown Town Hall on East Main Street. For folks at the Greensboro campus, the Guilford County Agricultural Center on Burlington Road is closest. From the High Point campus, try Washington Terrace Park on Gordon Street or the Roy B. Culler, Jr. Senior Center on North Hamilton Street.
High Point University: Washington Terrace Park is about a mile from campus.
When can you vote early? Today and Friday and Feb. 17-29. Click here for hours and dates in Guilford County. (Not all sites are open on the same day or the same time.) If you're in a hurry, the Guilford elections board now lists wait times at each early-voting site. If you live outside Guilford County, the State Board of Elections has a statewide list of all early voting locations.
Are there any other early voting sites on college campuses? Indeed there are. In addition to UNCG and A&T, at least six other UNC System schools have early voting sites on their campuses: Winston-Salem State (Anderson Center), N.C. State (Talley Student Center), Appalachian State (Plemmons Student Union), N.C. Central (Turner Law Building), UNC-Charlotte (Belk Gymnasium) and Western Carolina (A.K. Hinds University Center). UNC-Chapel Hill doesn’t have one, but the closest site (Church of the Cross on East Franklin Street) backs up to the Morehead Planetarium on campus. If I missed one, let me know.
Why so many early voting sites on college campuses? For one reason, students ask for them. A&T students lobbied really hard for an early voting site on their campus and won over the Guilford County Board of Elections. For another, there has been a surge of voting interest among college students, and there's a certain logic to make polling places as convenient as possible. According to the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University in Massachusetts, about 40 percent of U.S. college students voted in the 2018 mid-term elections. That’s up from 19 percent four years earlier. Moreover, according to the institute, 73 percent of college students were registered to vote in 2018 (versus 65 percent in 2014), and 55 percent of them cast ballots in 2018 (versus almost 30 percent four years earlier).
Anything else? A couple of things. A&T and UNCG students might want to vote early, as the March 3 primary falls in the middle of spring break at both schools. And despite the big to-do over whether college IDs would be OK to use at the polls, no one has to show ID to vote in the primary after all.
If you want to know more about early voting, visit the Guilford County or North Carolina elections boards websites, or check out this early-voting primer put together by the News & Record.