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WCU Student Shares What Early Voting Looks Like On Campus

Nate Hadley/WCJ
Students and community members can vote inside the University Center on campus.

More than 1 million North Carolinians have voted during the first five days of early voting in the state.  That’s more than 14 percent of all registered voters in the state.

BPR checked in on the early voting site on campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee:

More than 4-thousand ballots have been cast in Jackson County during early voting.  The polling place in the University Center is one of five in the county.

“Right now, it’s pretty slow.”

That’s Nate Hadley, Editor and Chief of The Western Carolina Journalist, WCU’s student news service, speaking Monday afternoon.

“I went in and checked and right now there are 732 people that have voted at this location,” says Hadley, who is a senior communications major.  

He’s has been keeping an eye on the polling place since early voting started last Thursday. He says that have been a mixture of the Jackson County community and students voting on campus.

“Well in the mornings we have been getting some little rushes, probably for people getting ready to go in before they go to work. The lines even in the morning don’t get much longer than 20 or 30 people that are voting at a time at most,” says Hadley.  

Hadley says he hasn’t seen any groups breaking campaigning rules by being too close to the polling place or bothering voters.

“Intimidation hasn’t really been something that has been a problem here this year I would say,” says Hadley. Many election officials across the country have been concerned about intimidation.  

Credit Nate Hadley/WCJ
There have been booths outside the polls encouraging voting such as this one.

One change this year has been the COVID-19 precautions.  Hadley says there are clear barriers set up to keep poll workers safe and social distancing measures in place for those voting. He says there the majority of voters have also been wearing face coverings. On campus, Hadley says students have been more cautious as well.

“This past week we had a bit of an increase in cases on campus so people have been taking a bit more of a step back than what we had been before,” says Hadley. 

There were 16 new student cases last Friday which bring the total to 189 student cases (plus 7 employees and 5 subcontractors) since July, according to the campus dashboard. Right now, there are 136 student in isolation off campus and 36 on campus in isolation waiting for COVID-19 results. There were just 4 new cases in Jackson County on October 1 but there were 40 new cases on October 16, according to the Jackson County Department of Public Health.

As for his own voting plan, Hadley he says he has already turned in his absentee ballot.

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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