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North Carolina voters are facing a steep learning curve in 2020

There’s all kind of new out there.

  • New state Senate and House districts for some;

  • New U.S. congressional districts;

  • New voting machines;

  • New voter ID requirements;

  • A new, and considerably earlier, primary date.

Take out your pencils, kids, because this is all going to be on the test. The first step for voters should be to figure out where they are after all the map redrawing. Go to the North Carolina Board of Elections Website Voter Lookup page, punch in your name and county, and you’ll see your congressional district, state Senate district, state House district, judicial, municipal and school districts. You’ll also see if you’re registration is active, a wise thing to check. Some of the congressional districts were redrawn dramatically; there’s a consensus that the old maps, which gave Republicans a 10-3 advantage in the congressional delegation, will likely shift to an 8-5 GOP advantage. Two districts, the 2nd and 6th, were redrawn to effectively freeze out GOP incumbents George Holding and Mark Walker. The second went from a +13 GOP seat to +19 Democratic. (These numbers reflect partisan leanings ranked against the county as a whole). The sixth shifted from R+16 to D+18. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, which crunches data and analytics from topics ranging from politics to sports, says that even with the new maps, the state is still unbalanced. As of Dec. 7, 2019, unaffiliated voters were the most numerous in the state, with nearly 2.5 million Tar Heels making that choice. There were 2.23 million Democratic Party registrations and 2.04 million Republicans. Despite those numbers, FiveThirtyEight notes the GOP would take 8 of 13 congressional seats in a GOP wave year with the new maps, and also 8 of 13 in a neutral year – and in a Democratic wave year as well. It’s estimated it would take a Blue tsunami – +13 Democratic nationally – for a majority of the state’s congressional seats to turn Democratic. Back to matters at hand: Your local board of elections can tell you what kind of ID you’ll need. Oh, and you’d better get on this, because instead of a May primary, North Carolina has moved its primary back to March 3. OK. Now that you’ve figured out where you are and what races you can vote for, now you have to figure out who your picks are. This sounds straightforward, but in North Carolina, it being North Carolina and all, there’s a bit of a twist. We use a semi-closed primary, which generally means if you’re a registered party member – Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian or Republican – you can only vote in your party’s primary. No crossing the line to try to pick off someone in another party you don’t like. If you’re unaffiliated, you can pick one of those party ballots. Looking at who has registered to run for U.S. president in North Carolina, you currently have a choice of 15 Democrats if you choose that ballot, one Green Party and one Republican Party choice, two Constitution candidates, and 16 Libertarian candidates.

If you’re unaffiliated and want to jump into one of the crowded races, you’ll have to research the individual candidates. Just by way of example check out Vermin Love Supreme, who’s one of the 16 Libertarian candidates.

Defining characteristics: Commonly wears a boot on his head; carries a large toothbrush. Platform: Mandatory tooth brushing by rule of law.

Educational outreach: In past, has campaigned on zombie apocalypse awareness. Social/economic policy: Promises a free pony to Americans.

In short, tough but fair. Sure, critics say Vermin may be in the pocket of Big Pony. But if he’s elected they’ll be saying that with a stunning, bright smile.

Joviality aside, voters need to get to work. We’re on the clock for 2020.

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