Cook column: We’ve got a guide, but you decide

Published 12:11 pm Sunday, October 26, 2014

T

he race for Rowan County commissioner is the talk of the town, with eight people vying for three open seats. When I ask people who they think will win, most will name a couple of candidates they consider definite winners and say they’re just not sure about the third one.

Thing is, even the “definites” vary, depending on the person making the prediction.

Having three unaffiliated candidates on the ballot — along with three Republicans and two Democrats — has thrown all the usual prediction principles out the window.

If the majority of Rowan voters were expected to cast ballots the way they usually do — all Republican —  the election would be a mere formality. But this election seems different.

There is no longer a place on the ballot to check off a straight-party vote, for one thing. Sure, some people will vote all-red or all-blue, our new gang colors. There will always be people completely loyal to their party. But even Republicans say the chatter is different this year.

If you’re still confused about the candidates and issues, the Voters Guide in today’s Post should help. We’ve tried to include every race that will be on the ballot in Rowan County, including an amendment to the state constitution regarding trials. The section also includes a sample ballot, voting details and more.

Like everything else in the world, voting seems to get more complicated with each passing election cycle. It’s easy to get confused about who your representatives are in Congress and the Legislature, with district lines that follow no real boundaries. And the state’s voting laws have been going through changes, court challenges and back-and-forth rulings.

As for the law, it boils down to this: You do not have to present a photo ID to vote this year. You’ll be asked if you have one, but you are not required to present it.

Voting in the right location on Nov. 4 is crucial, however. If you cast a ballot in the wrong precinct, it won’t be counted. But it should not be a surprise, either. If you’re not on the precinct’s list of voters, the officials there will let you know.

The location aspect may explain some of the appeal of early voting. You can vote at any open polling place in the county during the “no excuse” voting that started Thursday at Rowan Public Library. Next week, a few more early-voting polls will open across the county. Check Section F of today’s paper for more details.

Why is voting in the right precinct so critical on Election Day but not during early voting? That’s something I’d like to know. Our election laws and practices are evolving.

One thing everyone is looking forward to is the end of the TV ads for  Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan in the most expensive (read: most-advertised) Senate race in the country.

We should be used to this by now. TV viewers don’t like attack ads, but the ads are nevertheless effective. And one way they work is to discourage some people from voting. The diehards will vote no matter what, but the swing voters in the middle can be fickle.

Be a diehard about voting — regardless of which side you vote for. Show the marketing manipulators you cannot be manipulated. The right to vote is precious; it’s your voice, your chance to influence the political process. Every vote counts.

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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