Earlier this year, I was a passenger on a very turbulent flight. The pilot announced that the aircraft could not fly over or around the thunderstorms, only through them. Expect a bumpy ride, he warned.
That ignoble flight felt a lot like the 2010 elections. Nauseating, terrifying, seemingly endless.
Ironically, the very people who want to dismantle government, primarily free-marketeering, far-right Republicans and tea partiers, are those running for government office. Their new shtick is that they are pledging to abide by term limits. That's convenient, because they can parachute in to office, destroy the village, so to speak, and then bug out—letting future officeholders repair the damage.
We know how that feels. President George W. Bush was constitutionally bound to term limits. And in eight years, he nearly destroyed this country. Where were the fiscal conservatives when he was mounting enormous national debt from cutting taxes for the wealthy and waging war in Iraq? They were calling the left traitors. And now these very conservative penny-pinchers are complaining about the current debt, much of which we inherited.
Granted, there are Democrats who need to be sent home. Passive seat-warmers, they serve no one. At the Indy, we wish we could find responsible Republicans to endorse, because we would do it. (We did endorse two this year.)
But inert Dems shouldn't be replaced by candidates who want to vandalize the government and hand over the spoils to private enterprise. We know how that feels. Corporate personhood has boosted no one but the companies and their shareholders. Some of our greatest environmental and financial disasters were brought to you by an unbridled, deregulated free market.
When my flight ended, a couple of people handed the attendant, who was sipping ginger ale, their white barf bags. I walked down the jetway on shaky legs, pale, my heart still pounding from the adrenaline. On Nov. 2, many of us will likely feel the same way. —Lisa Sorg
What you need to know to vote
- Early voting runs from Thursday, Oct. 14 through Saturday, Oct. 30.
- Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Board of Elections websites
Find your polling place.
Where can I find out about the candidates?
- The Indy's candidate questionnaires
- Other resources include Project Vote Smart, which lists candidates and their stances on the issues. The Center for Responsive Politics has federal campaign finance information.
- For campaign finance information on state and local races, see the Board of Elections websites (above).
Voting straight party?
To vote straight party, fill in the oval for that party: Democrat, Republican or Libertarian.
However, remember that there are many nonpartisan races on the ballot, including all the state and local judicial races, soil and water conservation district supervisor, school board and the referenda: Orange County sales tax, Durham County street bonds and a statewide vote on whether ex-felons should be eligible to hold the office of sheriff.
These races are not covered by straight-party voting, and you should vote for them in addition to the partisan races.
Constitutional amendment: Should felons be sheriff?
Voters in all counties will see this prompt on the ballot: Check "For" or "Against" for the following: "Constitutional amendment providing that no person convicted of a felony may serve as sheriff." This referendum was placed on the ballot by legislators after five convicted felons across the state ran in the May sheriff primaries.
That old saying about not letting a fox into the henhouse—well, it makes sense. Felons who have served their time and been released from their obligations to repay society might deserve a new start. But being elected to the office of sheriff is not a privilege to be afforded to just anyone. Sheriffs are role models, endowed with the public trust. Besides, felons can't carry firearms, and a sheriff's job isn't just to sit behind a desk. There are times—especially in more rural parts of our state—where the county's top lawmen also have to take to the streets. The public needs men and women who can do the whole job, not just part of it.
Our choice: "For"—the state should ban felons from serving as sheriff
Others who agree: N.C. Sheriffs' Association, N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, N.C. Sheriff Police Alliance
Don't sweat Instant Runoff Voting
Although some local governments have used Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), this year is the first time the method will be used in a statewide race.
Thirteen candidates are running for a N.C. Court of Appeals seat formerly held by Judge Jim Wynn. (President Barack Obama appointed Wynn to a federal judgeship earlier this year, leaving the seat vacant.)
How you vote: Essentially, you vote for your top three candidates, as if you were judging pies at the state fair: first, second and third. However, you can vote for fewer than three candidates—or pies—by leaving the second and third columns blank.
It's important to know your second and third choices don't count against your favorite; they are only considered if your first choice is not the clear majority winner.
How the ballots are tabulated: The candidate with the majority of first choices wins.
But if no candidate gets a majority of first choices, then this is what happens: The two candidates with the most first-choice votes go into an "instant runoff."
If your first choice is in the runoff, he or she gets your vote.
If your first choice is not in the runoff, your second and third choices are reviewed by election tabulators to see if one of them is in the runoff.
Your vote goes to the runoff candidate you ranked highest on your ballot.
Why are we doing this? Particularly in races with many candidates—in this case, 13—the votes are often so dispersed that it's difficult to determine who legitimately has the broadest support. With IRV, the winner will be the candidate who earned the most of voters' top three choices.