• 64°

Unaffiliated voters, it’s OK to be ‘that guy’

I have a confession: I hate being “that guy.”

You’ll know who I’m talking about.

It’s the man who goes through the drive-through line twice because he asked for barbecue sauce and got ranch.

It’s the woman turning around at the register, pointing out that she got $3.77 in change when it should have been $3.79.

It’s the gender-neutral cause of a slow line, of a minor inconvenience to customer service personnel and customers alike.

Me? I’d rather sacrifice a penny or peel the tomatoes off my own sandwich, thank you very much.

But Wednesday, something happened that forced my hand. My nonconfrontational nature almost cost me my opportunity to vote.

For background, I’m an unaffiliated voter and a recent transplant to Rowan County. I decided to take advantage of one-stop early voting Wednesday morning to register at the Board of Elections Office.

Everything was smooth sailing. And then they handed me my ballot.

It had one question: the city of Salisbury’s Fibrant lease referendum.

“Don’t I get to choose which party primary to vote in?” I asked.

“No, that’s it.”

Had I read the information wrong from the Board of Elections website? I knew there was a deadline to update your address within the same county, but I was coming from Iredell. Was I still too late to participate in the primary?

I took my sparse sheet to the voter stand. I stared at it. I thought more of the above questions and of asking again.

Then I filled in my solitary bubble, slid the paper into the machine and left.

Well, almost.

I got as far as my car before a feeling of unease overtook me. I’d been trying to convince myself: “I’m just one person. It’s not worth pitching a stink. It was probably my error.”

But then I realized, what if this is happening to more people? What if everyone thought, “I’m just one person?”

I took the safe route for the confrontationally disinclined: I called the front office. Someone told me that I should have been given the option to vote in a party-affiliated primary.

A brief moment of personal panic over casting my ballot followed that validation. Fortunately, the Board of Elections staff was quite accommodating.

This was their error, said Elections Director Nancy Evans, as she worked with me to cast a second, provisional ballot.

The error turned out to be an unfilled box in a computer form that assigned me a ballot, but I’m still left wondering: How many more voters out there will come through like me? How many more will pass up the opportunity to vote for fear of causing stress, of looking uninformed?

Unaffiliated voters, I encourage you to take advantage of North Carolina’s semi-open primaries as you journey to the polls in the coming weeks. It may take an extra second, another question, but you should be given the option to choose which ballot you want: Democrat or Republican.

Don’t be afraid to use your voice. Be “that guy,” so others will use their voices too.

Comments

China Grove

China Grove firefighters injured after engine overturns

Business

Salisbury VA to reopen entry, exit gates

Crime

Sheriff’s Office looking for suspect in Burlington Coat Factory theft

Elections

Requests for absentee ballots top 9,000 in Rowan

Local

Spencer approves supplemental USDA loan for Park Plaza project

Business

11 locals will make up Empire Redevelopment Task Force

Local

New finance director excited to prove himself, continue on path set by predecessor

Coronavirus

County health officials report four new COVID-19 deaths

Elections

Trump promotes health care ‘vision’ at stop in Charlotte but gaps remain

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with stealing mom’s dog

Business

Rowan County hires Howden as new finance director

Local

Exhibit about Jim Crow-era travel on display at NC Transportation Museum

Elections

GOP elections board members resign over absentee settlement

Crime

Drive-by shooting injures 24-year-old Salisbury man

Crime

Highway Patrol: Vehicle fled after striking, killing pedestrian on Camp Road

Local

Locals to be inducted into NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Business

Fall fun, with a twist: Patterson Farm adjusts to guidelines, offers new version of traditional events

Nation/World

Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in ‘Brian’s Song’

Education

Partners in learning passes last year’s special needs fashion show fundraiser with all-virtual event

Education

Shoutouts

Elections

Former history teacher to use ‘working knowledge of the issues’ in state House race

Business

Chamber adds more than 50 new businesses during Total Resource Campaign

Education

School board candidates for Salisbury seat split on consolidation

Education

Virtually no internet: Rural NC families struggle with online access for school-age children