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Early voting for the N.C. primary starts today. Here’s what you need to know

Precinct workers prepare for early voting at the CPCC Facilities Services building at 1325 East 7th Street, where early voting will begin at 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning.
Precinct workers prepare for early voting at the CPCC Facilities Services building at 1325 East 7th Street, where early voting will begin at 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning.

[Updated with information about same-day registration.]

Young people are sometimes seen as complacent and apathetic about the world of politics. The stereotype looks something like a slouchy, deep-sighing youth with ears plugged with headphones and thumb flying wildly through their Instagram feed. Admittedly, I could have been the posterchild for this stereotype at one point in my life.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care. I was confused about where and how to get my information. Because of this, I just gave up, got lazy, and let other people vote for me.

I like you, CharlotteFive readers, and consider us to be friends. So, as your friend, let’s chat about the upcoming primaries, where to vote and how to vote early, because voting matters and we should all be doing it.

When

Early voting: Starts today (March 3) and runs through March 12. The CPCC Facilities Services building is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays. All other sites are open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekdays. On Saturday, March 5 and Saturday, March 12, voting is open from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

N.C. primary elections: March 15. (A second primary election will be held June 7 for the N.C. Congressional districts … More on that in a minute.)

Where

If you’re voting on March 15, you can find your polling place here.

Early voting sites: 

– CPCC – Facilities Services, 1325 East 7th St., Charlotte.

– Beatties Ford Road Regional Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte.

– Cornelius Town Hall, 21445 Catawba Ave., Cornelius.

– Elon Park Recreation Center, 11401 Ardrey Kell Road, Charlotte.

– Independence Regional Library, 6000 Conference Drive, Charlotte.

– Main Library, 310 North Tryon St., Charlotte.

– Marion Diehl Rec Center, 2219 Tyvola Road, Charlotte.

– Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station St., Matthews.

– Mint Hill Library, 6840 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Charlotte.

– Morrison Regional Library, 7015 Morrison Blvd., Charlotte.

– Mountain Island Library, 4420 Hoyt Galvin Way, Charlotte.

– North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Lane, Huntersville.

– South County Regional Library, 5801 Rea Road, Charlotte.

– Steele Creek Library, 13620 Steele Creek Road, Charlotte.

– Sugar Creek Library, 4045 North Tryon St., Charlotte.

– University City Regional Library, 301 East W.T. Harris Blvd., Charlotte.

– West Boulevard Library, 2157 West Blvd., Charlotte.

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Registration

You can check to see if you’re registered to vote here. If not, you can still get registered during early voting for the March primary with something called same-day registration. Show up at an early voting site with ID, fill out a form and vote all at one time.

If you don’t get registered for the primary, you have until Oct. 14 to register to vote in the November general election.

Photo ID

Don’t forget your photo ID, because this is the first election where most people will be required to show it to vote. You’ll need a NC driver’s license, NC ID card, passport, military/veterans ID card, tribe enrollment card, or an out-of-state driver’s license if you registered to vote in NC less than 90 days before you cast your ballot.

Voters with a “reasonable impediment” to having a photo ID can cast provisional ballots. Impediments can include a lack of proper documents, family obligations or other reason.

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Precinct workers prepare for early voting at the CPCC Facilities Services building at 1325 East 7th Street, where early voting will begin at 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning.

Who/what is on the ballot

The sample ballot at charmeck.org is an excellent educational resource before election day. Follow the link, enter your address, and see what your ballot will look like.

What ballot you get depends on which party you are registered with. If you’re an unaffiliated voter, you can choose between the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian ballot.

Follow the links to learn more about the candidates you’ll be voting on. I suggest researching the candidates on your sample ballot to make sure you’re not that person who chooses the candidate with the most interesting name in the voting booth – not cool.

President

This is a good place to remind you to make sure you vote for someone who is still actually in the race. One sample ballot I saw still listed Martin J. O’Malley, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Jim Gilmore as candidates even though all of them have dropped out. Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a San Diego businessman who petitioned to get on the ballot, is also on the Democratic ballot.

US Senate

US House of Representatives*

*So this one’s a little confusing. Candidates for the N.C. congressional races will still be on the ballot even though the state’s congressional map has been redrawn, which basically means that you can vote in the race but your vote won’t matter. Why is it still on there? Because a lot of areas still use paper ballots and absentee ballots have already been sent out. So go ahead and vote, but know that it won’t count this time. This is the primary that will happen June 7.

NC Governor

NC Lieutenant Governor

NC Attorney General

NC Commissioner of Labor

NC Commissioner of Agriculture

NC Commissioner of Insurance

NC Superintendent of Public Instruction

NC Secretary of State

NC Treasurer

NC House of Representatives

Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners

Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds

NC District Court Judges

Connect NC Public Improvement Bond

The wording will be confusing, but here’s the gist: The “Connect N.C.” bonds would pay for infrastructure projects in 76 counties. Among the projects: a new $90 million science building at UNC Charlotte.

Other tips:

– Get your friends involved and make voting in the primaries and general election an outing. Head to lunch or treat yourselves to coffee after you’ve cast your ballots – you deserve it!

– Go during non-peak hours to avoid long lines. Think after the morning rush (about 10-11:30 a.m.) and between the lunch and after-work rushes (about 1:30-3:30 p.m.). Even if you do have to wait in line, try to remember this experience is worth the wait.

– Wear that “I Voted” sticker like a badge of honor, friend.

For some reason, when I didn’t care about politics I felt like I had to keep not caring. There seemed to be a barrier to entry in the educated voter club. But really, the only gatekeeper here is yourself. Have a little faith in your decision-making capabilities and go vote.

Photo: Davie Hinshaw/Charlotte Observer

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