OPINION: Staying informed this election is important

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Tribune News Service

LEAH MILLIS | Times A full cup of "I Voted" stickers.

William Becker, Staff Writer

During the 2018 midterm election, I was an election official and also worked at a democratic call center. The two jobs obviously stayed very separate, but needless to say, I was deeply involved. 

Having been politically active ever since I am already deeply confused by all the information and misinformation surrounding the upcoming 2020 election. 

The other day, I went on Instagram and a high school friend had posted that the deadline to register to vote was on Oct. 16 in N.C. 

I was extremely confused by this information. Given my experience with working elections and having a decent amount of knowledge of same-day registration (which occurs during early voting and is something I took advantage of during the 2020 primaries) I knew this was not true.

“The voter registration deadline is 25 days prior to an election. If you miss the voter registration deadline, you may still register to vote during same-day registration,” according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) — so Oct. 9.  

21 states and the district of Columbia allow for same-day registration, with more information available for a state-by-state basis at the website for the National Conference of State Legislatures. In N.C., same-day registration is possible during early voting periods, but not on election day. Early voting runs from Oct. 15 to 31 and locations can be found here. 

I am registered to vote in Wilmington, N.C. but my real home when I am not at college is Boone. In a normal election year, I would not be concerned in the slightest, but with Trump threatening to dismantle the postal service, the U.S. postal service removing drop boxes and the coronavirus (COVID-19) having a possibility of sending us all back home, it is hard to know what is what, especially as misinformation is running rampant. 

As far as absentee voting goes for N.C., the North Carolina State Board of Elections website claims the following: 

“A signed and completed State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be received by the county board of elections office no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the date of the election for which the ballot is being requested (5 p.m. October 27, 2020, for the 2020 general election.)”

However, every state is different and you need to look into specifics regarding your state. The most valuable resource that I have found is Can I Vote, which has lots of helpful information about registering to vote, registration status, polling stations, early voting, absentee voting and overseas voters. 

On that same note, finding objective information about who is running for election this year is a bit harder. 

The North Carolina Voter Guide has promised for individual candidate profiles in Sept., IVoterGuide lists important dates and the political parties of each person running for office and websites like Headcount show the names of all of the candidates. 

However, it is surprisingly hard to determine who to vote for or where specific candidates stand on each issue. Another avenue to find where candidates stand on certain issues is by visiting their campaign website (if they have one) and this can be done by simply searching their name in Google.

It is very easy to know who is running for president, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. But as you gaze down the line of candidates, going from Senate, to District, to Lieutenant Governor, to District Court Judge and even Board of Education, it gets a little overwhelming and unfamiliar. However, it is very important to remember that even on the local level, every vote counts and every elected official will impact your life in some manner, even if it is not immediately apparent.