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Cook: Ready for Tuesday? Last minute info

Earlier this year, the Salisbury Post invited readers to serve on a Voters Panel to provide commentary on the 2008 elections. We wanted reactions from a cross-section of ordinary people to include in election coverage ó to put issues in perspective, stir debate and promote the voting process.
We wound up with a group of 25 people ó nine Democrats, 10 Republicans and six unaffiliated voters.
Their jobs range from working at a nuclear power plant to homemaker. In terms of political experience, they range from a seasoned former candidate to a young person who frankly admits that it’s hard to plug into local issues.
You will see these volunteers quoted from time to time in Post stories about the elections. Today’s front-page story about Tuesday’s primaries draws from some of their reactions. We hope their insights and observations might help you think through your own voting decisions this year.
If you’re interested in reading more of what the panel members have had to say so far, their comments are posted on salisburypost.com under Opinion.
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In a survey posted on our Web site, 79 percent of the 326 people who responded said they planned to vote. Sixteen percent said they would not vote; 4 percent didn’t know yet.
A turnout of 79 percent would be huge ó state officials are optimistically hoping for 46 to 48 percent ó but our survey is not scientific. The fact that it’s online skews the results, leaving out people who don’t use the Internet.
Our Voters Panel also is skewed toward Internet users. Twenty of our panelists are communicating with us by e-mail. That makes asking and answering questions a lot easier.
Truth be told, any survey conducted among newspaper readers and users of newspaper Web sites will be skewed heavily toward people who vote. They’re the ones who try to stay informed ó and are eager to cast ballots to express their own political views.
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I have to agree with Abby Young, one of our panelists, who said keeping up with local races is very difficult. I had to pull out a sample ballot last week to remember which races even have primaries.
Daniel Overcash hit another nail on the head when he said the race for two seats on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners had high interest “because people are really happy or really upset with the current commissioners.” True, they don’t leave a lot of people feeling neutral.
Back to keeping those local races straight: The Post will make last-minute decisions a little easier for everyone by publishing a section Monday devoted to the primary races, Primary Choice ’08. The section will recap the stories we’ve written about the candidates and some of the charts we put together. It will also include sample ballots and some information about state and national races. Just look for a Mark Brincefield ó aka, Mook ó drawing of Hillary and Barack on the front.
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Remember, Republicans and Democrats will have different ballots; unaffiliated voters have to choose between the two, and everyone will vote on non-partisan races that include two seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals. Landis voters have a mixed-drink referendum. Kannapolis voters have their school board race.
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Look for full coverage of the primary results in Wednesday’s Post, including a chart showing how the major candidates fared in all the precincts. We’ll have a full crew of reporters and photographers gathering information and images.
Before Wednesday, you can check salisburypost.com for early returns throughout Tuesday evening and final results as soon as we can get them.
Speaking of the Web site, it’s now possible to comment on stories and columns online. You may have noticed numerals beside headlines on the home page; that’s how many comments each story has received. Readers have posted their comments at the end of the stories.
Anyone can add comments. Go to the bottom of the story and follow the directions. We are screening submissions to keep out profanity, so it may take a while for your comment to appear on the site.
If you’d like to read all the recent comments without checking every story, scroll to the bottom of our home page ó waaaayyy down ó and click on “Latest Commented Stories.”
By Wednesday, we may all have a lot to comment about.
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Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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