by Kevin Garcia-Galindo (he/him/his)
“Voting in this election is supremely important,” said Dr. Greg Snyder, Chair of the District 206 Dems and Professor of Religious Studies when referencing the influence of the student vote.
With North Carolina’s continued restrictions due the COVID-19 pandemic, some things will be different than past elections for Davidson students. “There will be all the social distancing requirements. There will be spaces between machines, and machines will have to be disinfected, and people if they’re waiting in line will have to wait farther apart,” Dr. Snyder said.
Joe DeMartin ‘21 is President of Davidson’s Center for Political Engagement (CPE). “North Carolina is, I think, by far the most critical state in the election,” he said. Especially for those who come from “less swing-like” states, as DeMartin called them, voting in North Carolina is a very important option to consider.
Joe DeMartin further expanded on this by referencing Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s words from the Reynolds lecture earlier last week by stating that voting as a college student in North Carolina is similar to “being a student in Florida in the 2000 election.”
In fact, according to a recent study released this year by Tufts University, North Carolina is the state with the second highest youth vote influence on the national presidential race and the state with the fourth highest influence on its Senate race, another reason DeMartin emphasized that most students should consider voting in North Carolina.
DeMartin has spent the last couple of weeks leading the Davidson Votes initiative, which aims to register all students who have the opportunity to vote and ensure they have a strong plan in place to do so.
“The most important thing that you can do is make a plan,” he said. “Voting by mail, and getting that mail-in ballot as early as possible, and using the ballot tracker, that’s definitely a really great option,” DeMartin said.
The ballot tracker that Joe DeMartin referenced is new this year, introduced by the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Its main purpose is to ensure that voters are aware of when to expect their mail-in ballot to arrive.
Davidson Votes has been setting up tables across campus to incentivize both in-state and out-of-state students to register and request a mail-in ballot. According to DeMartin, the voting process in Davidson can seem confusing depending on whether or not students were already registered in another state or county.
If someone is already registered in another state or in another county in North Carolina, volunteers across the campus have registration forms and mail-in ballot request forms for all interested students. Whether it’s reregistering or asking for a mail-in ballot, Davidson Votes has been tackling these issues with every student who inquires at any of their tables stationed across campus, specifically aiding students in voting by mail.
Voting by mail, as Dr. Snyder emphasized, is more influential now than ever. DeMartin called it a “just in case” option — whether or not you vote in person, having a mail-in ballot can give you that option if you change your mind about voting in person before the deadline. DeMartin added that if you plan on early voting, having an absentee ballot that you physically turn in on Election Day can still keep you from spending time in a crowded room during a pandemic.
The important deadlines that students should be aware of according to Joe DeMartin are October 9th for voter registration and October 27th for absentee ballot requests. However, DeMartin recommends acting before these dates due to the high influx in requests for absentee ballots. For students who do not plan to vote absentee, the early voting period runs from October 15th through the end of the month.
The Cornelius Town Hall remains the closest site for early voting. The Election Day polling site has moved from the Davidson Town Hall to Davidson Elementary School in order to enforce better social distancing precautions. The site will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, November 3rd.