Today’s episode is brought to you by “I Voted” stickers. Sticking up for a democracy that’s holding on by thread.
This is the North Carolinian, the politics show about what the heck is happening in our home state. I’m James Kotecki.
Well this is it, my fellow North Carolinians. 2016. We are one of if not the most crucial swing states in the country. Our US Senate race is neck-and-neck, international controversy around House Bill 2 threatens to drag down our Governor, and major court decisions have reshaped the election itself.
Simply put, my fellow North Carolina voters, we are squarely at the center of the political universe. Your vote matters. So I put together this simple list of seven things you need to know before you go vote.
1) You Don’t Need ID To Vote
You may have heard a lot of talk about how you’d need to bring an ID to the polls this year. But now, thanks to a court ruling, you don’t.
2) You Don’t Need Pants To Vote
Any registered North Carolina voter can request an absentee ballot and vote by mail for any reason -- actually, you don’t have to give any reason at all. You can request your ballot right now, fill it out at home, and send it back pants free.
To be clear, you still may want to wear pants because you need to vote in front of two witnesses or a notary public, and then you need to go to the mailbox. So really the need for pants depends on the open-mindedness of your family, friends, and neighbors.
3) You Don’t Need To Vote On Election Day To Vote
Early in-person voting was another issue caught up in the voter ID court ruling. The upshot is that you can vote early in-person but you should check with your local county board of elections for specific times and locations.
Early voting is my personal favorite - you usually get the job done faster and you’re not stuck in a three hour line on Election Day.
Plus, you still get the satisfaction of seeing your ballot go into the machine, and, at least in Wake County, you don’t just get an “I Voted” sticker, you get an “I Voted Early Sticker” which you can wear around for days and even weeks to impress your friends.
Early in-person voting starts as early as October 20th and ends on Saturday, November 5th at 1pm. So don’t be that guy knocking on the door trying to vote on November 6th before jetting off to Mongolia. Nobody like that guy.
4) You DO Need To Register to Vote
If any of the above voting options sound enticing to you, remember you actually have to register to vote first. Now thanks to that court ruling you can actually register to vote when you go to vote - but only if you vote in-person early. Otherwise, you need to register to vote by Friday, October 14th. You can find the form on the state’s Board of Elections website, and I promise your favorite political campaign will also be happy to hook you up.
If you’re wondering whether and where you are registered, you can find out by looking up your name here.
5) You Can See Your Ballot In Advance
You know how when you go to vote and you get to that bottom half of the ballot and there’s a bunch of names you never heard of and you want to pick one but you don’t know how to choose and you feel like you’re letting down the Founding Fathers?
Avoid that feeling this year by seeing your specific ballot in advance so you can do some research or at least ask a friend. Just go to that same voter lookup portal, click on your name, and you’ll see a link to your sample ballot.
6) You US House District Has Changed
The politically nerdy among you may remember that North Carolina had two primaries for US House this year after a court forced the General Assembly to redraw those districts. This is the first general election under the new maps. You may be in the same district, you may not. You may have a familiar name on your ballot. You may not.
Why is this so convoluted? The court was attempting to address racially gerrymandering, the process by which politicians pack minority voters into certain districts for political advantage. Speaking of which:
7) Your State House and State Senate Districts May Change Soon
There was yet another major court ruling this year - are you sensing a pattern - and this one said that 28 of our state legislative districts were racially gerrymandered. The court said that since there wasn’t enough time to redraw the maps before the 2016 election, lawmakers would have to make new maps before the 2018 election.
Now, this doesn’t make complete sense since the lawmakers doing the redistricting are the ones from the districts that the court rejected in the first place. Still, it’s a strong incentive to you care about who you send to the General Assembly this year. To be fair, only a few of those races are actually competitive - because of gerrymandering.
So - that’s it. Seven things you need to know before you vote. Share this guide with your friends and especially on Facebook to make everybody smarter about voting. Please vote! Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th!
Until next time, I’m James Kotecki trying hard to be rather than to seem.