This issue marks the start of early voting in North Carolina, which is why we’ve devoted pretty much the whole thing to candidate profiles in every race in Guilford and Forsyth counties — with the exception of the judicial races, which we will revisit at another time.
Regular citizens — as opposed to journalists, candidates and other political junkies — don’t often pay much attention to primaries, particularly in off-year elections like this one. The last comparable election, in 2018, saw 14.35 percent voter turnout statewide, and only 11.55 percent turnout in Forsyth and 11.31 percent in Guilford. And those are just registered voters. Untold thousands in our counties choose to sit these decisions out entirely, leaving them to others who are only too glad to dominate the conversation.
It’s pitiful. And our country would look like a much different place if we had 100 percent voter registration and mandatory participation in our elections. You should ask yourself why we don’t have that, as many other countries do, and who benefits from our voters’ malaise.
But it also means that your vote caries much more weight in the primary.
It’s so easy to vote. There are Early Voting stations all over Forsyth and Guilford, where you can also simultaneously register to vote. Election Day proper has become much less of a hassle since so many people vote early.
And it’s important to vote in the primary. Maybe even more important than voting in the General Election.
People who think the deck is stacked when it comes to American elections must understand that the primary is the place where the deck gets stacked, where an underdog can rise to the top of the pack — Rep. Ted Budd won his first congressional seat with just 20 percent of the primary vote. In Winston-Salem, Derwin Montgomery rose to prominence while still a student at WSSU, where he harnessed the power of early primary voting to unseat a longtime city council incumbent, facing no challenger from the opposing party in the general election.
Several elections this year will be decided in this primary, including the Guilford County district attorney’s race, where they decide who gets prosecuted and who doesn’t — one of the pressure points for social justice.
Some Greensboro City Council races are so close that a barroom full of people could affect the outcome. Same goes for the county commissions in Guilford and Forsyth. And the school board races, which often suffer from a dearth of candidates, are packed with first-timers pushing a very new slate of ideas.
One more reason why everyone needs to vote in this primary: We need you. Our community depends on a plurality of voices to make themselves heard when the time comes. And that time is now.
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