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Editorial: What voters need to know

2016 General Election sample ballot

Click on image to see full ballot.

Click on image to see full ballot.

Election Day is less than three weeks away, but early voting starts Thursday at the Rowan County Board of Elections. Before you rush to exercise your franchise, take a look at the sample ballot in today’s Salisbury Post.

Do you know who’ll you’ll vote for in every race?

The Salisbury Post does not endorse candidates. When it comes to choosing political leaders, readers need information more than our opinions. Some voters need some kind of guidance, even if it’s just to read endorsements and vote the opposite way. But we’re sticking with our non-endorsing tradition.

Here are some things we will tell you:

Voter’s Guide: The Post will publish a Voter’s Guide in Sunday’s paper that will include information about most if not all the races you see on the sample ballot — local, state and national.

Vote 2016 online: The Post’s website, www.salisburypost.com, collects all the election information in one spot, under “Vote 2016” in the white navigation bar near the top of the page, on the far right. A candidate directory will be added to that tab this week.

Voter ID: You do not need to show a photo identification card to vote.

Early voting: After the first week of early voting at the Board of Elections, five more sites will open: Rowan Public Library, Cleveland Town Hall, Spencer Municipal Building, Rockwell American Legion and the South Branch of Rowan Public Library on Kimball Road. Addresses and hours are available online at www.rowancountync.gov, under the Board of Elections. You can vote at any of the sites; it doesn’t have to be in your precinct.

Registration: During the early voting period, you can register to vote by visiting any of the early voting sites while they are open.

Paper ballots: Rowan County uses paper ballots. Voters fill in the circles beside the names of their chosen candidates, and a machine counts the votes. The ballot has two sides; be sure to turn it over.

Straight-party voting: You can no longer check one box to vote for all your party’s candidates. The presidential election has been separate for some time, and the General Assembly voted in 2013 to do away with straight-ticket voting.

Nonpartisan races: Six seats on North Carolina’s state-level courts are up for election. Judicial races in the state are nonpartisan, but Court of Appeals candidates are required to declare their party affiliation when they file, and it appears on the ballot.

School board: In another nonpartisan race, school board candidates are vying to represent different areas of the county, but Rowan voters can vote on all three seats.

Your ballot: Different lines for the U.S. House, N.C. House and N.C. Senate districts mean that people in the southeast part of the county will get a slightly different ballot from those in the northwest. You can find a ballot tailored to your address by getting online and going to https://enr.ncsbe.gov/voter_search_public.

When in doubt: Ask the experts. Rowan County Board of Elections stands ready to answer your questions at 704-216-8140. The office is located at the West End Plaza on Jake Alexander Boulevard. Office hour are  Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

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