Are You Really Ready to Vote?

At the Tim Kaine rally, what struck me most wasn’t something said by Tim Kaine, but rather by Dan Blue III, the democratic candidate for North Carolina Treasurer. It was something along the lines of “be sure to vote blue from the top of the ballot to the bottom.” I wondered if anyone in the crowd would blindly take his advice.

Your role as a voter is a lot like that of an HR staff person. Your job is to choose the most qualified candidate among several. The difference is, the positions you’re helping to determine will not just impact one company; they'll impact your county, your whole state, and the entire nation. This is not something to be taken lightly! It would be a mistake to choose solely based on party affiliation. Just because someone is from your party does not necessarily mean you would agree with all their stances. So it’s important to take a look at candidates from the other side. Consider questions like: Who has more experience? Who has built relationships that will help them cooperate with others to get things done? The answers you find may be the candidate from the other party.

In election season, so much emphasis is put on the presidential campaign that we can forget about the other offices we’re deciding. It’s tempting to choose your president and not really think about the rest. I know, you’re a Davidson student, and you are busy. But important decisions are being made at all levels of government (just look at House Bill 2) and we need to select leaders in our states and our counties who will make good decisions and protect citizens’ rights. Democracy doesn’t happen by itself.

So here’s what will be on your ballot.

Federal Government:

President and Vice-president

The Senator representing your state

The House Representative for your district

State Government:

Governor

Lieutenant Governor

Attorney General

Auditor

Commissioner of Agriculture

Commissioner of Insurance

Commissioner of Labor

Secretary of State

Superintendent of Public Instruction (Education)

Treasurer

State Senator in your district

State House representative in your district

Supreme Court Associate Justice

Court of Appeals Judges

Superior Court Judge

Local Government:

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor

County Commissioner for your district

County Commissioners At-Large

Register of Deeds

District Court Judges

After reading this list, I have a question for you.

If you're like me, the answer is no. But if we don't know what a candidate stands for and what experience he or she has, we won't be able to make the best choice. Looks like we’re going to have to do some research!

For North Carolina Voters

Here's who will be on your ballot if you are listed at 209 Ridge Road (or any other Davidson address) as your address when you registered to vote:

https://ballotpedia.org/Sample_Ballot_Lookup#address=209+Ridge+Rd%2C+Davidson%2C+NC%2C+28035&election=2016-11-08

This site has the links to the websites of the candidates for North Carolina state offices as well as for the Senate and House:

http://uselections.com/nc/nc.html

When you’re looking at candidates for Senate and House of Representatives who have served in the past, it may be helpful to see the stances they’ve taken in the past. Enter their names in the search bar at the top left of the page:

www.ontheissues.org/

Here’s a guide to candidates for North Carolina state justice and judge positions that includes each person’s judicial/legal experience and personal statement. It’s more succinct than the candidate’s pages on ballotpedia:

http://www.ncsbe.gov/Portals/0/FilesP/2016_Voter_Judicial_Guide_Web.pdf

Here’s an article about the candidates for the three Mecklenburg County Commissioner At-Large positions:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article108942497.html

Here are the Charlotte Observer's recommendations for Mecklenburg County positions. Shout-out to Davidson's own Brad Johnson, assistant professor of environmental studies, who is running for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article108324867.html.

The candidates for Register of Deeds and County Commissioner for District 1 are running unopposed so it’s not necessary to look into them.

For Absentee Voters

If you’re voting via an absentee ballot, find out who's on your ballot by entering your address here. You may have more to consider. Another office (like school board) may be up for election in your area. Additionally, sometimes referenda will be on your ballot. A referendum is a general vote by the electorate on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision. For example, residents of the City of Charlotte will be voting for or against Public Transportation, Housing, and Neighborhood Improvements Bonds in this election. I encourage you to visit the website of your state's State Board of Elections to see sample ballots. If you are doing an absentee ballot by mail, you can also wait until you get your ballot and then look up the candidates that are on there.

Once you’ve decided who you’re going to vote for, you can head to the polls. Early voting has already begun in North Carolina. I would encourage those ready to take advantage. Long lines at polling places can discourage voters from casting their vote. If you vote now, that’s one fewer persons the polls have to process on election day. But if you haven’t looked into all the candidates, wait until you have. An informed vote does a lot more good than a hasty one.

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