• 59°

Campaign 2018: it’s best to be informed

It’s that time of year when they start sprouting up along roadsides, adorning the grassy shoulders and medians and ditches everywhere you look. Their bright colors are eye-catching as you drive by. It’s a symbol to let everyone know the season is in full swing.

I’m talking about campaign season, of course. Those little campaign signs have already sprung up like flowers (or weeds, if you prefer) on each road. On my 40-minute commute to work today, I counted at least 350 signs as I traveled from my home in Northampton County over to the News Herald office in Hertford County.

Just the sheer amount of campaign signs can be a bit overwhelming, though they do a great job of helping people learn the names of all the potential candidates. But that’s all those little plastic signs do. They unfortunately don’t tell you about the candidate’s background or experience or goals.

It’s up to us, the voters, to be informed about who is running for office in the upcoming primary and general election. Having the best candidates in office will be more beneficial to everyone in the long run, whether that means reelecting someone who’s done a good job for years or electing someone new who will bring a fresh perspective and ideas to the table.

Whoever you choose to vote for in the upcoming primary on May 8 or the general election on November 6, I would urge you to make sure you know enough about them to make a decision. Yes, it takes a bit more effort than reading the name off a sign when you drive by, but it’s better than merely voting blindly for whoever’s name you like the best.

If you’ve been reading the News Herald the past few months, we’ve published information that the candidates have submitted about themselves. So that’s one way to learn more. You can also talk with people who know the candidates or the candidates themselves. Some probably have Facebook pages or websites to let interested people learn more about their platforms. There’s definitely ways to learn more about the people who want to serve our counties.

And while we’re on the subject of voting, don’t forget to actually go out and vote! Statistics say that young people in particular tend to skip out on voting, but there are people of any age demographic who decide not to cast their vote.

Why not? The process doesn’t even take that long, especially if you’ve already decided ahead of time who you want to cast your ballot for. We’re lucky that we live in a relatively rural area so that we don’t have to wait in ridiculously long lines for hours to vote like some people in cities do.

Some non-voters, perhaps, might argue that their vote doesn’t make much of a difference. But really, you don’t know whether your vote will make the difference between a win or a loss for someone. What may have seemed like a landslide yesterday might be a tight race today.

We have the opportunity here in America to make decisions by voting. It’s a big part of what the whole country was founded on! Even if you vote for the candidate who loses the race, your vote still counted. And you’ll still have the opportunity to vote again next time.

The biggest hindrance to voting though might actually just be making the time to go to the polls on Election Day. Luckily, we have early voting (also known as one stop voting) as an option. The early voting period for the upcoming primary begins on Thursday, April 19 and ends on Saturday, May 5, giving people plenty of options to vote at their schedule’s convenience.

Hours and locations for early voting sites vary in each county, but you can contact your county Board of Elections office to find out more information or you can search the state Board of Election’s website. Go to ncsbe.gov and then click on “one-stop site lookup” link under the “Voter Tools” box on the main page.

In Northampton County, for example, there are three early voting sites: the Board of Elections office in Jackson, Cool Spring Community Center in Gaston, and the Roanoke Center in Rich Square. Residents of the county can pick any of those three locations to vote at when they’re open. It doesn’t matter whether or not you live in the early voting location precinct.

The ncsbe.gov website is actually quite helpful in many areas. If you’re not sure where your polling place is located or you want to look at a sample ballot, for example, the website offers that information as well. It’s all in the Voter Tools section.

All in all, I just want people to have all the information necessary to vote. Don’t listen to the conspiracy theorists on Facebook and wherever else who just like to stir up trouble, trying to make it seem like your vote doesn’t count or doesn’t matter. If you have questions, do the research to find out for yourself.

See you at the polls!

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.