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Why should I vote in every election, in every race?

Did you know that one of North Carolina's elections in 2020 came down to a coin flip?

It's true! The town of West Jefferson in Ashe County had a tie for the position of alderman, which is a city council position. So, to decide who won, they had to flip a coin! And they weren't alone - several races in North Carolina in 2020 came down to 15 or fewer votes.

The 2020 election for Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court came down to only 401 votes. Former President Trump won all of North Carolina’s electoral votes by only 1.34% - the closest margin of victory in all 50 states.

You may have heard that voting is pointless because your vote won’t matter anyway. As the 2020 election shows, this isn’t true at all! Your vote matters because it could be the vote that decides who wins and who loses. It is important to vote even when some of the races in your area are not considered competitive. Voting is your chance to have your voice heard by your government, and more votes is a louder signal, so let them hear it!

Your vote matters even more in local races.

This is because, as the example from West Jefferson shows, fewer people vote in elections for mayor, city council, county commissioner, and other local positions. And these positions are important! They decide everything from how much to spend on schools to where houses and businesses are permitted to be located. Your voice can be heard even louder in local races!

You have the opportunity to vote in many races.

Some are for federal office (such as the US Senate or US House) or state office (such as Supreme Court Justice, NC State Senate or NC State House). You may also be asked to vote for local offices (such as district or county), nonpartisan offices, or referenda. Make sure you exercise your right to vote in all of these important races! Many people only vote for the “big” races, such as federal or statewide office, which means your vote is especially influential in “down ballot” races.

It can be overwhelming to figure out for whom you should vote. Here are some tips:

  • Looking up your sample ballot ahead of time allows you to prepare in advance.
  • You are allowed to bring notes with you as you vote, such as a completed sample ballot or a piece of paper with the names of candidates you support.
  • Some voters use voter guides or endorsements by news outlets, advocacy organizations, non-profits, or political parties. There may be people located outside your polling site during voting hours distributing information on behalf of candidates or political parties.
  • You may also find useful information searching the internet for information, including from news stories or on candidates’ websites.