WINGATE – There isn’t a presidential race on the ballot this year, but this might just be the best time for Wingate University students to let their voices be heard.
Early voting got underway late last week, and Chelsea Kaufman says the midterms enable students to play an even greater role in shaping their future.
“The state and local races usually have low turnouts,” says Kaufman, assistant professor of political science at Wingate. “Keep in mind that the fewer voters there are, the more your vote matters.”
There are plenty of important races on the ballot that will be of interest to Wingate University students. The biggest race for North Carolinians is between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd, who are competing for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Richard Burr. Control of the Senate is expected to be a toss-up, and the North Carolina race is one of the tightest.
Other significant races in the state include U.S. House seats, two seats on the N.C. Supreme Court, four seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals, seats in the N.C. General Assembly, and many judicial and local seats across the state. Students registered in Union County can vote for County Commission, Board of Education, clerk of superior court and sheriff.
Joseph Ellis, professor of political science, echoes Kaufman’s words regarding the value of voting in the midterms. “It’s important for students to be aware that some of the most important and weighty things that happen – power changing hands – can happen in these off-year elections,” he says. “How certain committees are appointed, whether a particular political appointment occurs – these things can be impacted by midterm elections.”
Issues of particular importance to students these days include immigration, student-loan debt forgiveness and the “double the Pell Grant” movement. To find out how candidates feel about all the issues, Ellis and Kaufman suggest visiting candidates’ own websites, national and local newspapers (especially political columnists), political-news sites such as Politico and The Hill, and the website Ballotpedia.org.
Until election day, Wingate students who are registered to vote in Union County can cast their ballot at any early-voting location in the county. The closest ones to the Wingate campus are the Lois Morgan Edwards Memorial Public Library in Marshville and the Union County Public Library in Monroe, each a little over five miles away.
Students who have not registered to vote or who want to change their registration to their college address can register and vote on the same day during the early-voting period. To register, students will need to provide proof of address – Ellis suggests they take their student ID card – and use the address 315 E. Wilson St., Wingate, NC, 28174. There is no same-day registration on election day, Nov. 8.
Students who want to vote in their home district but can’t make it home on Nov. 8 should request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. In North Carolina, absentee-ballot requests must be received by the state Board of Elections by Nov. 1, and absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 8.
“That’s a tight turnaround,” says Kaufman, who urges students to request a ballot as soon as possible.