Editorial: There’s an election on June 7 too

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

There’s a critical election coming that most North Carolinians won’t participate in or don’t know about. Others, perhaps, don’t care.

Regardless of turnout, on June 7 North Carolina will pick its congressional candidates for the November general election. The turnout in June, however, is particularly important.

When federal judges declared North Carolina’s congressional map unconstitutional, state legislators were forced to redraw the districts. The redrawn congressional map placed many Rowan County voters in an entirely new district — the 13th. Most voters who were previously in the 8th Congressional District — a seat currently held by Rep. Richard Hudson — remained there.

For practical purposes, the 13th District is an empty seat. During the recent redistricting, the 13th was moved halfway across the state. As a result, Rep. George Holding, a Republican who currently represents the 13th, decided to run in a district that’s closer to home.

With the open spot, nearly two dozens North Carolina residents jumped into this year’s race — the official count is 17 Republicans and 5 Democrats. In such a field, it’s critically important that voters learn about candidates and vote on June 7.

The importance of an informed vote is compounded by the fact that there’s no possibility of a runoff. Normally, candidates need to secure at least 40 percent of the vote in order to avoid a runoff. In 2016, however, the candidate who receives the most votes advances to the November elections. If Republican candidate No. 1 receives 10,000 votes, Republican candidate No. 2 receives 9,999 votes and Republican candidate No. 3 receives 9,998 votes, we’ve got an extremely close race and also the party’s nominee.

Perhaps those vote totals seem low for a Congressional race, but they’re reasonable possibilities. With at least three candidates from most counties in the 13th — Rowan, Davidson, Davie, Guilford and Iredell — there’s a significant chance the Republican primary winner would receive the same number of votes it takes to win a Rowan County commissioner race. Mike Caskey, for example, received 11,137 votes in the 2016 Republican primary for county commissioner. Turnout is already low during a primary, and the number of candidates will significantly split the vote.

The Salisbury Post has committed to run profile stories on all 22 candidates in the 13th Congressional District. Until all candidates are complete, the profiles will continue to run on the front page. The stories will provide basic biographical information about each candidate, their reason for running and basic policy positions. We hope the stories will help inform voters about candidates during a critical election.