This year is shaping up to be one of the biggest election years in North Carolina history, and by now just about every voter—unless they have been hiding in the mountains with his or her head buried 10 feet in the ground 30 miles from the nearest computer or television—knows about the presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
[media-credit name=”Brent Laurentz ” align=”alignright” width=”210″][/media-credit]Most voters probably even know about the race between Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Walter Dalton to replace Gov. Bev Perdue as well. But they might be overlooking the important races for state legislature and county offices that will be on the ballot this year, too.
Races at the local level can often have a greater impact on your daily life than the big presidential race. The people you elect to serve in county or city government, or those you elect to represent you in the North Carolina General Assembly, will be making decisions on issues like schools and transportation that can have a concrete impact on your day-to-day life in Raleigh and Wake County.
In Wake County this year there are three races for the Wake County Board of Commissioners on the ballot—Districts 4, 5 and 6. It is important to note that even though Wake County voters, which includes Raleigh citizens, live in a particular County Commissioner’s district, they will vote in all County Commissioner races. So for example, if you live in District 4 you will not only be asked to cast a ballot for your District 4 commissioner, but you will also be voting for Districts 5 and 6 well.
The same holds true no matter which district you live in, even if your particular commissioner is not up for election this year. It can be confusing, so it’s best to be prepared and educated on the candidates for County Commissioner ahead of time before you head to the polls.
Voters will also be asked to choose who will represent their district in the North Carolina General Assembly. Raleigh and Wake County have seen a big shift in state House and Senate districts after last year’s redistricting added two new House districts and more than half of a new Senate district. As a result, voters may live in an entirely new district this year than they did in 2010, so it’s essential that all voters find out which districts they live in now by visiting the Wake County Board of Elections website.
While the races for president and governor grab most of the attention, it is extremely important to not overlook these down ballot contests. Your county officials, state representative and state senator make consequential decisions on property tax rates, budgets, schools, transportation, parks—things that affect your everyday life.
So take the time to get educated on the candidates and your districts before Election Day and be prepared to cast an informed vote in every race on the ballot. Then go vote. It’s the most important decision you’ll make all year.