Politics & Government

Your guide to Tuesday's election

→ Online

Voters Guide: Find out about national, state and local races and more at charlotteobserver.com/voter.

Follow the Observer: Get real-time coverage at www.charlotteobserver.com/politics.

→ Election Day

At stake: U.S. Senate, Congress, local offices.

Marquee races: In North Carolina, Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan faces Republican Thom Tillis. In South Carolina, GOP Gov. Nikki Haley takes on Democrat Vincent Sheheen.

Two elections in one: Voters in North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District will vote in two elections to choose a new member of Congress for the first time in 22 years. They’ll vote in a special election to fill the unexpired term of former U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, who left in January, and a regular election for a full two-year term.

Voting times: N.C. polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. In South Carolina, polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Avoid lines: North Carolina election officials say traditional busy times are 6:30-8:30 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m.

No straight tickets: For the first time since 1925, N.C. voters will no longer be able to vote a straight ticket. Four years ago, 117,550 Mecklenburg County voters cast straight-party tickets.

Go to the right precinct: Because of a change in the law, officials will no longer count provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. That means if you moved, you have to vote in your new precinct, not your old.

Find your voting place online. In Mecklenburg, go to www.meckboe.org, click on the “Where do I vote?” link and enter your address.

Review your ballot: If you think you or your voting machine made an error, you can review your choices before casting a final ballot.

→ On the ballot

In addition to candidates, there are a handful of other measures:

• 

N.C. constitutional amendment:

The amendment would give defendants the choice to take their case before a judge in a “bench trial” rather than a jury trial. The switch must be approved by the judge and is not available in death-penalty murder cases.



• 

Mecklenburg sales tax:

Would raise the tax by a quarter-cent, primarily to raise teacher pay but also to raise pay for faculty at Central Piedmont Community College and help the Arts & Science Council and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.



• 

Charlotte bond issues:

City voters will decide whether to approve bonds for $110.96 million for transportation improvements; $15 million for housing and $20 million for neighborhood improvements.



→ Important websites

• Mecklenburg County Board of Elections: www.meckboe.org. 704-336-2133.

• 

N.C. elections board:

www.ncsbe.gov. 919-733-7173.



• 

S.C. election commission:

www.scvotes.org. 803-734-9060.



Jim Morrill

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