Episode 1-Early Voting with Erin Riney
5:51PM Oct 19, 2020
early voting sites
Hello, hello, hello wonderful listeners. This is out loud in the library, a drum tech library podcast. I'm your host Courtney Ripley here to guide you on this journey of connection and information. Today's library update is that the library has started a podcast if you're listening, you know that already. So kudos to you for being up up to date. In this episode, I talked to Aaron riney, Director of Student engagement at Durham Tech about voting early on campus. I wanted to find someone for this interview, who knows a lot about how voting works in North Carolina and wow, I found the right person. Do you have a plan to vote?
What races are on the ballot this year other than obvious presidential race, the Senate race for North Carolina, the governor race, so those are the ones off the top of my head. But where? Where can we find information about all these other races, my ballot is full, it's like double sided.
Yes, there are a ton of races this time around. So in addition to what everybody knows about what the president vice president and most people I think, would be aware that the governor and lieutenant governor are also on the ballot. But there are a ton of other down ballot races went down ballot means look below, like the first lines that are the president and but there's also a back and it's extensive this year. So your voting form will have a front and a back. And there are all kinds of things on your ballot. So there's county commissioners, there's North Carolina US Senator, there's a US House of Representatives race, most likely on your ballot with Carolina Attorney General. And then lots of North Carolina offices such as superintendent of public instruction, the Ag Commissioner, the Commissioner of labor commissioner of insurance, and so most people don't know what those offices do. And that's okay. This is the time to educate yourself about what those offices do and how they affect you. Because they do so you want to be an informed voter when you go to the polls. But luckily, there are some really easy tools to figure this out and to be able to view your ballot ahead of time. So if you're interested in seeing your ballot ahead of time, I would recommend going to the North Carolina State Board of Elections website. So to be honest, when I want to find this, I just Google NC voter search,
I find this The easiest way to get to it. And it's usually the first or second link in NC voter search or NC voter lookup, and then all you have to type into that has a bunch of different fields for you to enter in, I just type in my first and last name unless you have a very common name. And you might need to put in your county or date of birth or something like that. But then it'll have your name and you can click on it. And it'll have so much information for you right there. So it'll have like your different districts so you can understand what jurisdiction You're in for like NC house representatives or North Carolina Senate District. It'll have information about what judge districts you live in. But it also has your voting record, which you can see all the times that you voted before. So I noticed that since I've been North Carolina voted 17 times I'm proud of that over the years that includes primaries, and you know, general elections and things like that. But what is most important that's on that page is your sample ballot. So you can click on your sample ballot. So this is exactly what your ballot will look like when you go to the polls. And so you can see who will be on there and who you need to look up. So you might feel like you might have enough information about governor maybe been really tuned into that and you've been reading up on it. But you don't know much about some of the other things like North Carolina Attorney General, why would you care about that? And who's running and what are their stances on things. So you can definitely do some more research for that.
A lot of times people don't know where to go to find that research or where to find it without filtering through a lot of rhetoric or a lot of partisan information. So when we do voter engagement at Durham Tech out of the student engagement office, we only do nonpartisan, we do not talk about candidates individually. Our goal is to empower and inform students so they can make an educated decision for themselves. So we will only refer students to nonpartisan websites. And luckily, there's a fantastic one through the League of Women Voters and it's called vote411.org, vote411.org.
Yeah, so that one is the easiest, most streamlined, simple tool because it distills down a ton of information for you. And visually, it's super easy to look at. So it'll have you put in your information, have your sample ballot, and then it'll have the candidates will bring up like the two candidates for ag Commissioner. And then they'll have their information about what their platforms are their views on things, and they'll be listed right next to each other and it's in the candidates own words. So you can kind of say, okay, ag Commissioner, I don't know much about that. What does this office do? And then what does this candidate say? And what's his candidate, say? Okay, I can clearly see I'm more for this candidate, and you can click on them. And so you can go through each race that's on your ballot, and then click who you want. And at the end, after you're done looking through all of them on vote 411 you can have exactly who you're going to vote for you can actually print out or you can take a photo of it to use you can use your phone at the voting site, so people think they can't you can use your
In the booth, you just can't take pictures while you're there. But I've done that before I go to vote for one pick my folks, it's all listed there in a really clear table, I'll take it in. So I know who won't remember who I want to vote for.
Awesome. I in the past, I have generally just written the names down on a scrap paper and taken that in with me, but the phone idea is as a smart one. How long has Durham Tech been in early voting site? Because I you know, I don't know how long that's been happening. And is this going to continue happening into the future? Are we going to be an early voting site for the next election as well?
That's a great question. So we are an early voting site right now for anyone who is registered to vote in Durham County. So over in building four off of Cooper Street, the back of the building, there'll be signage, if you just drive around to the back of the building, you can basically park right outside and go in the doors and the room is right there. So it's super convenient. We're not expecting big crowds. And Durham County now has a new tool. If you just go to Durham County Board of Elections website, again, I just typed that in and google it to get to the easiest page, they have a new feature where you can look up the early voting site and get the distance and see which ones closest to you and also see what the wait times are at each of these. I think that's super important during COVID. I don't want to go to a site that has a ton of people waiting in line when I go early vote I'm going to look and see what the wait times are. And I'm guessing the ones that Durham Tech are gonna be some of the lower ones since we don't have students on campus right now, because it's gonna be not as busy. But we've been in early voting sites in spring 2016. We aren't an early voting site every single primary season and general election, it just depends on what's going on in Durham County, what kind of sites they need, what kind of budget they have. So students are really interested in Durham Tech be an early voting site, then they need to make their opinion heard to the Durham Board of Elections which is, they have public meetings, you can email the board. So I've gone with students before and they've spoken up and students from Durham Tech have advocated that we be an early voting site. And that's how we're an early voting site again, is because the students have gone and said it's very important for our students on our campus to be able to just easily vote between classes or they come here right after work, let's let them go vote and then come to their class and then go home. It's not an extra stop for them. So I really appreciate those students who have gone to advocate before it's up to the board of elections and to public input every single election cycle. So every spring and fall basically and anytime there'll be a special election, but whether Durham Tech would be an early voting site, but main campus and our northern Durham campus have been early voting sites that even when we haven't been an early voting site, we've tried to work with like having a party to the polls or a shuttle through a van to take students up to Central as basically Central's law school was almost always an early voting site. But it's hard for students to figure out where to go sometimes on Central's Campus, parking is an issue. So we definitely think it would be easier for our students if they voted at Durham Tech. So, I really hope that we have a decent turnout now, because future decisions about who becomes an early voting site are based on turnout from the previous election. So we really want folks who are registered in Durham County to come vote at the Durham Tech site.
Awesome. Turnout is important in so many ways.
I requested an absentee ballot and I sent it in already.
But I know that there are people who requested an absentee ballot and now don't want to send it in. So can they bring their absentee ballot to the early voting site to turn it in and vote that way?
You have a lot of options. And I feel like people should feel confident in all their options, because there are a lot of safeguards in place. So if you requested a ballot, an absentee ballot, and you sent it in, then use ballottrax ballot trax, which is also through the North Carolina or your county boards of elections website, and you can see when it was put in the mail when it was received and when it was processed. So you can feel very confident that your ballot is in and your votes gonna count.
I did that. And it was really helpful. They even sent me an email when it was accepted.
Yeah, you can also get text messages when it is accepted. So I think that's really cool. And that's a new feature. I'm not sure that we've ever had that before. Not that I'm aware of at least but if you get your absentee ballot and you're just feel like you're worried about Will you be able to turn it in in time, will it get there and be postmarked in time? Absolutely. You can just take it to your early voting site, or you can just leave your absentee ballot at home and just go to the early voting site and vote there with a ballot they have just the most important thing is: vote only once. Only one way should you vote. So don't send it in by mail and then go on election day or early voting that is not what we want. So you do have options and I will say You Can Vote has an excellent website. It's youcanvote.org they've been a terrific partner for Durham Tech and come work with our our students to register them and educate them and they are just a fantastic resource but they have step by step instructions with visuals i think is a really great infographic about what to do with your absentee ballot and what your options are. If you decide actually don't want to send this through the mail, I'd rather hand it into someone. I strongly recommend people go that You Can Vote website and I think it's under their gosh, I can't remember what tab it is off the top of my head anyway. They have a ton of information.
Right there that'll show you what to do and how to make sure your vote gets in.
Just to dispel any myths that might be out there do you need an ID to vote in this election?
IDs are not required this fall. So the federal and state courts a temporary block the North Carolina voter ID requirement from taking effect. So it's not in effect right now. But if you're voting for the first time, registered or changed your registration, especially like if you've moved and you've needed to update your registration, you may want to take some kind of bill, like a utility bill that has your name and address on it. If you're voting for the first time at that location. It's just a safeguard to have in place. However, I do want to make people aware of a an awesome resource, which is the 888OurVote, 888, o u r v o te, which is democracy NC's Voter Protection hotline. So if you go to vote, and they tell you you can't, because you don't have an ID, and you voted there before, or if they're giving you a hard time when you bring in your utility bill, or if you didn't realize you need to bring in your utility bill and then all of a sudden, you're not allowed to vote, call that number and they will try to resolve it right then. They are super fast, they're a great resource, they will have work with our contacts at the different county board of elections. And this is a statewide number. So they will help anyone across the state. So even if you're listening to this, and you live in Alamance County, or Johnson County or wherever they will help you and they will work to resolve that. Also, you can ask to make sure that you can complete a provisional ballot. So if they give you a hard time, and you can't call that number, for some reason, maybe you don't have a phone, you can say okay, well, I want to fill out a provisional ballot because I want my vote to count. So then what that means is that you fill out a ballot and then later on, there will be some kind of vetting process to decide whether that counts or not, they can go back and check on it. Because I mean, it's a lot of people who are trained to be poll workers and sometimes messaging is going to get messed up. Sometimes there's gonna be human error, not necessarily that they're trying to be malicious and voter suppression can be intentional or unintentional. So we want people to make sure they know that 888ourvote number.
That's really good information. Really, really good. Obviously, the pandemic is affecting voter turnout, potentially, what COVID-19 precautions are being taken at Durham Tech for the early voting site?
Sure. So today, the early voting site is being set up. So when people are listening to this, the early voting site at Durham Tech is open. It's open October 15 through 31st. I went over today and peaked as they're setting up and they're already getting tons of precautions setups. So they have the spots on the floor every six feet so you know exactly where to stand. They have a bunch of stanchions you know those cordoned off areas. So they show you exactly the flow, they have flow charts to show you the flow in and out of the building. So people aren't crowding they have, the Board of Elections has, decided to have larger areas, places with bigger rooms to be the early voting sites so that people can spread out and so that poll workers will be more spread out so that the booths are more spread out. Additionally, they're using things like single use pens, so you get to keep the pen that you use so that people aren't touching pens and reusing them. Giving out masks if people forget those. There's all kinds of additional cleaning and sanitisation kind of processes that they have in place. So they're taking it very seriously with the social distancing. And all the things we know work to help prevent the spread of COVID. So I feel very confident going in and voting early with all the precautions that are taken, especially in Durham County, because you can look and see how crowded a place is.
The environmentalists to me does not like the idea of single use pens, but I understand the necessity in this in this time.
Yeah, take them home and then use them a lot. Okay. Don't just throw them away.
Okay. Yeah. Well, you can take home that's different. Yeah, that's a free pen.
What are the benefits of early voting over voting on Election Day, which is, you know, November 3?
So y'all, you want to vote early. That is the number one thing I hope people take away from this podcast is vote early, as I talked to all of our different nonprofit, nonpartisan voting partners out there, everyone stresses early voting for a very specific reason. And that's because anything that needs to be addressed or corrected can happen during early voting. In North Carolina we have this thing called it's basically one stop voting because you can register to vote and vote on the same day, but only during early voting. So only during October 15th through 31st. So if you go and maybe you moved and you forgot to change your voter registration, well, then you can correct it that day. There's any kind of problem that needs to be addressed or some kind of confusion or error, it can be addressed then. But if you go to vote on Election Day, first of all things happen. What if you're not that hope this happens to anyone but knock on wood. What if you're in a car accident, or someone gets sick, or you know, something happens, then your vote doesn't count. So it's better to go vote early, so you still have more chances to still vote if something happens, but also you can't register to vote that day or correct your registration. So if it's not correct, then your vote might not count on Election Day, there's just so many additional considerations that can be taken care of during early voting. So I would urge everyone to make a voting plan right now. When do you want to go vote early? I think I'm going to try to go vote this weekend and an early voting site because I will have my
Partner take care of the children so I can get out of the house. And usually on the first couple of days of early voting, the lines are not long. Usually the lines are pretty short. There's some of the slowest days or during the first couple days of early voting traditionally. I know we're seeing different things across other states. Like I saw the lines yesterday about Georgia and some in Virginia about their early voting. But that's not the way it's been around here, traditionally. But I just am a huge fan of early voting, and it's just seems like it has safety nets in place.
So is it too late to register to vote? Can you actually register to vote at an early voting site?
I feel like North Carolina makes this is about as clear as mud, to be honest. So voter registration stopped October 9 in North Carolina.
Unless you vote early. So then you can't fill out the form and just send it in or just fill it out on the website. We had online voter registration in North Carolina for the first time, this election that you can't do anymore, the only way to register to vote now is doing the same day voting by going to vote early in any of those early voting sites. So October 15, through 31st. If you're not registered to vote, you can register to vote at any of those early voting sites. And this is statewide, you can register to vote and vote on the same day.
I did not know that I thought that the time had passed. But that's awesome. It's not too late to register.
No, it's odd that there's this window between like the ninth and the 15th, that people can't register, but the 15th to the 31st, they can. So if you are not registered to vote, the very last day, don't wait till last minute, please, the very last day to register to vote would be on Halloween. So you could register to vote on Halloween and vote that day. But if you don't register, then you can't. I know, spooky. And before you go to trick or treating go take care of that or have the tricker treaters come to you. So the other thing to keep in mind about early voting is that there are fewer early voting sites in your county. So there will be a ton of precincts for you to vote in during election day. Everyone has a precinct, they're usually pretty small, and there are tons of them. And you can only go to your precinct on Election Day November 3, but with early voting, you can go to any of those in your county. So whichever one is closest to you, you can go to for early voting. So you can go if you work in Durham County, you can go the one that's closest to your work, if you want to just stop there on the way back. Or if you want to go near where you live, you can go to that one during early voting, it doesn't matter. You just need to go in your county of residence. But that is only for early voting. If you wait until November 3, you have to go to your very specific place.
So basically, early voting gives you so much more freedom and options than going on actual election day.
It's flexible, and it has safety nets in place. So I would early vote for sure.
Early vote! Early vote! Early vote! Yay!
We have an early vote cheerleader. I like it.
Now for the last question, because this is a library podcast. What was the last book you read? What was it about? And did you like it?
Excellent question. So I have a six month old and newly three year old she just had her birthday. So I don't have a lot of time to read books. So I've been listening to books for the first time ever.
I love audiobooks.
Yeah, I didn't think I would. But actually, I've learned that it kind of depends for me like what genre it is. So I'm starting to figure that out. And so I've been listening to time, I've actually set a reading goal for the year. And I've already surpassed that by a lot because I've just been getting all these audiobooks. And so when I'm doing laundry, or you know, commuting, taking the kids to daycare or whatever, I just listened to it in the car. So the last one that I listened to read was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Honeyman, I think is the last name, honeymoon, honeyman, something like that. So that was actually a really good read. It was not what I thought it would be. So it had an unreliable narrator, which sometimes can be really gimmicky, but I thought they did such a good job of not making it gimmicky and not relying too much on the unreliable narrator. I just felt like the character was fully developed and very unique and very authentic. And the story sometimes it's really hard to listen to, I don't know, if I've read a book before that had such a wide range of emotions, like sometimes it was really hard to read and very challenging because of some of the tragedy in this person's life. But sometimes it was just hilarious and irreverent. And, you know, almost satirical. So I liked that it was so, had such a wide range, and that that lead character who sometimes was not likable, you could really kind of identify and see this person fully developed character, which I hate it when they're flat character who the person just seems one dimensional.
Yeah, I agree. I really like those fleshed out characters that that grow throughout the book.
So I give it a four out of five stars, which is really hard to get for me.
That's a high rating.
It's a very high rating for me most I think get a two or three. So I would recommend it. It's not, you know, super deep literature that is just going to, you know, challenge you and you're gonna get into it, it's gonna be very deep, you can definitely listen to it in the car, while there are two kids screaming in the back. So I recommend it.
Sometimes you don't want super deep literature. You really just want something that's that's nice to listen to.
Yeah, it's kind of at that I would place this between like a beach read and super hard literature isn't that sweet spot in between. I really enjoyed it. So I recommend it.
Awesome! Thank you so much for talking to me today and giving us so much information about early voting at Durham Tech. I expect that people will find it really useful.
I hope so. I really hope so. There's a ton of information out there. People just need to take a minute to set some time to do the research and it'll be super easy and you can feel like you've done your civic duty and you're an informed voter. So vote people.
Vote. Early vote! Early vote! Early vote!
I'm getting you some pom poms.
I double checked and the author for the book, Eleanor Olifant is Completely Fine is Gail Honeyman, it won the 2017 Costa Debut Novel Award, which means it fits into one of the Read Great Things Challenge categories, which is a book that won an award. Find the rest of the categories on our library blog. I hope you enjoyed this first episode, and if you did, please tap that subscribe button so you don't miss the next one. Early vote! Early vote! Early vote!