The procrastinator’s guide to voting in NC. Everything you need to know at the last minute.


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Hello from The News & Observer’s sleep-deprived election team. We’re only a few days out from the election and it’s been a busy year, capped by heavy campaigning in the closing days of the U.S. Senate race with visits from Dave Matthews and Mike Pence (not, unfortunately, together).

I’m reporter Will Doran, and I’m trying not to read too much into my boss picking me specifically to write this “procrastinator’s guide” for the midterms.

If you’re already getting a weekly politics newsletter from the state capital newspaper, you’re probably comfortable with voting. Heck, you’ve probably already voted by mail or during early voting, which ends tomorrow (Saturday at 3 p.m. to be specific).

But if you’re like me and haven’t voted yet, then read on.

And even if you have voted, you probably know people who haven’t. So forward this on!

I’ve had friends texting me to ask when the election is, or where they can find the N&O’s editorial board endorsements, plus work from reporters on candidate questionnaires or articles on various races.

(Hint: Try for all of the above, plus more.)

Hold up. First things first: How does voting even work?

Good question, hypothetical reader!

It just so happens I already wrote an article on Everything You Need To Know For Early Voting. And for the folks interested in the nitty gritty of elections, Dawn B. Vaughan wrote an article explaining how votes get counted, who picks the people in charge, and more.

If you’re doing early voting, you can vote at any polling place in whatever county you’re registered to vote. Not registered to vote? Registered but need to update your address? No problem. Check out my article for more details on how to register last-minute during early voting. You can also use that article, or, to find a list of all your county’s early voting sites and the hours they’re open.

The main Triangle counties of Wake, Durham and Orange all also have a cool tool that shows which of their early voting sites have a line, and even how long the wait is. Some places you might be able to walk in and walk out. Others you might wait 10 minutes. Others might be backed up by an hour. And knowing that before you decide where to go can make a big difference.

So kudos to those local governments for providing that service, even though they aren’t required to.

Deciding who to vote for

“But Will,” you’re saying now that you have clicked on our voter guide and are actively looking at it, “how should I even start? There’s so much wonderful content here that I’m overwhelmed by the flood of information.”

That’s totally fair.

Even though this isn’t a presidential election, this year’s ballot is jam-packed. We’re talking hundreds of state legislative candidates, plus everyone running for Congress, the courts, local city councils and school boards, even soil and water commissioner. Yes, that’s a thing that exists.

My tip to all my overwhelmed friends is this: Go find your sample ballot by entering your name at Once you find your voter profile, scroll about halfway down to the section called “your sample ballot” and click the link. Figure out which races you’ve already made your mind up about, and which ones you either 1) didn’t know existed or 2) are undecided on. Then go back to the voter guide, fortified in your new knowledge of what to ignore and what to look for.

Other stories from the team

In addition to the questionnaires from the candidates, we also have plenty of bird’s-eye-view articles explaining what’s at stake.

ICYMI Dawn B. Vaughan had a detailed story a few weeks back detailing what could happen next year if Republicans win veto-proof supermajorities in the N.C. House and N.C. Senate., versus what could happen if voters stick with the status quo of a GOP majority but not a supermajority.

Danielle Battaglia interviewed Sandy Smith, a conspiracy theorist with a history of domestic violence allegations who has proposed executing people over voter fraud claims that have been widely debunked, and who could be representing much of Eastern North Carolina in Congress soon.

I’m also going to shamelessly plug my own article on the multimillion-dollar Supreme Court races that will decide which political party controls the court for the near future.

And as a relatively new dad, I read Keung Hui’s latest Wake County school board story with interest — especially since the majority of the current board decided to call it quits and not seek reelection this year.

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

In the meantime, tune into our stories, tweets and Under the Dome podcast for more developments.

— By Will Doran, reporter for The News & Observer. Email me at