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Editorial: Primary event for voters

State officials say voter registration is surging, with more than 150,000 people signing up in the first months of the year. The presidential race has inspired people to get involved. If attendance at a candidate’s forum Tuesday is any indication, the race for the Rowan County Board of Commissioners has stirred a lot of interest, too.
Democracy is alive, well and galloping toward the May 6 primary.
If you want to be part of the excitement this spring, Friday is the deadline to register with the Rowan County Board of Elections in the traditional way. It’s also the last day to change your party affiliation. People who vote regularly are squared away. But if you have never voted and you want to help choose nominees for the presidency, the governorship, county commission and other offices, you must register.
The conventional way to do that is at the Board of Elections now, which is in the Rowan County Administrative Office Building at 130 W. Innes St. If you do not get there by Friday, though, there’s another way to register. North Carolina now allows people to register at the sites where voters can cast ballots early ó called one-stop absentee voting sites. Here, that’s the Board of Elections; the East Branch Library at 110 Broad St., Rockwell; and the Tadlock South Rowan Library at 920 Kimball Road, China Grove. They’re open May 17-May 3.
A caution to people who vote early: You may not be prepared to to make decisions about all the races. Some campaigns don’t reach their peak until right before the primary. Certainly news coverage of the candidates runs right up to the time to vote. Don’t let strong feelings about one or two races rush you into making uninformed choices on other offices.
The State Board of Elections mailed out a guide this week that will help both first-time voters and veterans, early and on primary day: the N.C. Public Funding Programs 2008 Primary Voter Guide. Funded primarily through the $3 check-off on the state income tax form, it lays out the basics on voting and gives information on statewide candidates, many running in races you may not be aware of. They range from the N.C. Court of Appeals to the state superintendent of public instruction. If you have not received a copy, the guide can be downloaded from the board’s Web site at www.sboe.state.nc.us. If you have questions, the state board’s phone number is (919) 733-7173.

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