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The second day of early voting is winding down, and one thing is abundantly clear: Cliff Marr and his people at the Board of Elections have their act seriously together. They've reworked the whole system, and it moves lots of people seamlessly through the process. Lots of voters, no waiting. Go to the Womack Building and see for yourself, you'll be glad you did.
Anecdotal reports we get suggest another reason it may be working so smoothly: the early voters are well-prepared, and don't struggle with the choices. The machines turn over quickly, which helps the flow. It doesn't seem impossible that anybody could be undecided after this interminable mess of a campaign, and these reports suggest that may be so.
But regardless: vote early. It's fast, it's painless, it's convenient -- and it's the best possible way for you to help our candidates win. If your vote isn't cast then they don't have it, pure and simple; the best of intentions doesn't change that.
The debates are (mercifully) over, and it's time to get down to the business of deciding who we want to run this country. We want that to be Democrats, from Hillary Clinton on down, and now is the time to make that clear. Early voting begins today at the Womack Building, and will start at the two satellite locations (Green Creek and Mill Spring) on Monday and continue through the Saturday before the election. The schedule for the three locations is here.
Please, please vote early. Don't tempt fate by waiting until November 8, there are a lot of things that could keep you from the polls on that particular day. Most of us will find ourselves in Columbus during business hours many times during the course of the next two weeks anyway, and nothing could be simpler than to stop in to the Board of Elections at the Womack Building and discharge your duty as a citizen. It doesn't matter what precinct you live in, during early voting any voter can vote at any of the three sites.
And the HQ is open, so stop in before you go vote, ask any questions you need to, get your pocket ballot if you don't already have one, and spend some time talking to people who aren't going to vote for Donald Trump either.
That's Thursday, October 20, but only at the Board of Elections at the Womack Building. The two satellite locations (Green Creek and Mill Spring) will be open different hours starting on Monday, and early voting will continue at all three sites until the Saturday morning before the election. The times are complicated, so be sure to check them carefully before you go. The hours are here, but you can always check them directly on the site by clicking on the "Early Voting Times and Locations" link under "2016 Elections" at the left, under "Primary Links". There are also links there for the Pocket Ballot and the Sample Ballot, both of which you need to be familiar with before you vote.
Please vote early, but get your pocket ballot and take it with you when you go to vote. If you didn't get one in the mail, you can pick one up at the HQ, which will be open every (voting) day from now until election day. You know who you're going to vote for for president, but you don't know squat about the judges and the other down-ballot races that in many ways are more important to us locally, so don't set foot in the polls without a pocket ballot. The Womack Building is a 30-second walk from the HQ, so stop in, ask all the questions you need to, get your pocket ballot, and then go on over to vote.
In a pattern that is repeating itself often across the country, normally-Republican papers are turning their backs on the party of Trump. Now it's our regional paper of record, the Charlotte Observer, which has endorsed Roy Cooper over Pat McCrory. The Observer had endorsed McCrory in all his elections for the last 25 years, including his runs for Mayor of Charlotte, so this is an eyebrow-raiser and we hope a sign of things to come.
A month from today the most practical of us will already have voted early, and indications now suggest that will be a lot of people. There's no good reason other than tradition to wait to vote until November 8, and please don't do that. We need your vote in the bank, not on your to-do list, and besides, we have other plans for your November 8.
Getting out the vote is more important than any other single thing we do to help our candidates, and we have to have volunteers available to get the people to the polls and give them the information they will need when they get there. That means being visible, so that people can find you, and that in turn means having volunteers at all the places that people will look: the HQ, the early voting locations, and the precincts on election day. That takes lots of people and lots of hours, so now, as we get to the final month, we need you to get in the game.
Click on the contacts list at the left under "Primary Links", and call the one you're most familiar with. Tell them you want to help, and they'll get the ball rolling. We're having a Volunteer training session and dinner on the 16th, to get things in gear ahead of early voting that starts on the 20th, but that's just the start. Actually no, there is no start, this thing has been going on for months, there is only the end, which is now clearly in sight. The time is now...
The people at Public Policy Polling released this summary of the election here in NC today, and it has some seriously good news for Democrats. First, and most important: Roy Cooper has a solid lead over McCrory for governor. Not strike-up-the-band stuff yet, but very heartening to see with just 48 days left to go. We badly need to win the governor's race.
More good news is that Deborah Ross, our virtually-unknown candidate for US Senate, is dead-even with our two-term incumbent Senator Richard Burr. He's nobody's idea of a bomb-throwing Tea Partier, but he's a solid Republican and a proven vote-getter and there's no reason he shouldn't be clobbering Deborah Ross. He's not.
Less-good news is that Hillary Clinton isn't beating the Donald. She's not losing to him either, but being tied with such a preposterous candidate this late in the game is not a good thing. Clinton does have one thing going for her, namely that the Green Party candidate Jill Stein did not make the ballot in North Carolina, but the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson did. The Greens suck away votes from Democrats (thank you, Ralph Nader), the Libertarians from Republicans, and that could make a difference if it's really close.
Game on, people: the end is in sight, and the thing is doable...
This is what they look like, and we have lots of them for you to pass out during the election. Remember, these are the pocket ballots, not replicas of the ballot you will see when you vote, but a sequential list of the candidates we want the voters to support. You will find no Republicans on them, nor any candidates running unopposed. We do have a number of good Democrats who are running unopposed: good for them, but if they vote for themselves they're going to win, and we're always desperate for space on the ballot.
These are the candidates that we need to bring home in November, so spend some time studying the pocket ballot, and compare it to the actual sample ballot that voters will see either by mail or on the screens (it's here) so that you can explain to voters how to use the handy pocket ballots. Voting absentee by mail is underway now, so if you know anyone voting that way, make sure to get them a pocket ballot. They're available now at the HQ.
That's, from the left, Rhonda Lewis, Penny Padgett, and Russell Mierop, all smiles at the thought of taking on the Republicans in the campaign. Come to the convention in April to meet them and get started on the long hard road to November...