fter a buildup that has felt longer than the Super Bowl pre-game show on steroids, in-person ballots are actually being cast in the 2020 election.
And Jackson County, you’re up to bat.
Those who follow politics closely have likely settled on their choices for some time. Those who don’t, well, need a little preparation.
A caveat: If you are a registered Green or Constitution Party member, your ballot will be pretty simple.
If you’re not, you might want to study up a bit.
Or a lot.
Unaffiliated voters and those registered either Democrat or Republican who are casual observers of the political scene are advised the 2020 primary offers a wide array of choices, and some of those choices have changed.
Say you’re a Republican. You might go in to vote and look at the N.C. Senate 50 race, expecting to again vote for Jim Davis.
Davis is not on the ballot.
Rather, not on that part of the ballot. He’s among the 12 Republicans hoping to replace Rep. Mark Meadows, who announced he wouldn’t seek reelection back in December.
Ron Mau’s seat as a Jackson County commissioner is not up, but he’s on the GOP N.C. District 119 House ballot, vying with Mike Clampitt to face off against incumbent Democrat Joe Sam Queen.
Here are a few other things to know about the 2020 primary:
The voter registration deadline passed last week. However, if you’re not registered you can register at early voting, or one-stop, sites during the early voting period now underway. You’ll have to attest to your eligibility and provide proof of residence.
Then you can vote immediately.
One choice to make if you’re registered is to decide on a political party, or none at all (unaffiliated).
If you register for one of the five political parties in North Carolina – Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian or Republican – you can vote only on that party’s ballot. Unaffiliated voters can pick the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian ballot of their choice.
If you choose the Democratic ballot, you’ll have 15 candidates for U.S. President (plus “no choice”). If you choose the GOP ballot, there are 12 candidates for the 11th District U.S. Congress seat.
If you’re a Libertarian, you’re not off the hook, with 16 candidates for president.
Those crowded races (except for president) could spark primary runoffs, if the winner doesn’t secure at least 30 percent of the votes cast. The second-highest vote getter would call for the runoff.
The good news for the casual voter is there’s plenty of help out there, starting with the Jackson County Board of Elections at 586-7538.
Voting has begun for real. If you’ve not been paying attention, the choices may be daunting.
But they’re still better than the worst choice you could make.
That is to not vote at all.