With early voting ending at all locations Saturday afternoon, the Nov. 8 General Election is the final chance for registered voters to weigh in on plenty of contentious races up for grabs.
And with early voting in the rear view mirror, Wake County elections officials are urging registered voters to come prepared on Election Day.
“The biggest single item is to know where your polling place is,” said Gary Sims, Wake County Director of Elections. “Election Day is not like early voting. On Election Day, the precincts only have the ballots associated with where the people live. It’s important that they know where they need to go to vote.”
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Elaborate, often negative, advertising campaigns have turned a spotlight on the presidential, senatorial, gubernatorial and other races in recent months.
Sims said voter turnout historically is about 75 percent on a presidential election year. The 2014 mid-presidential term General Election saw a modest 48.85 percent voter turnout.
As of Wednesday, Sims said early voting counts were 40,000-50,000 more than at the same point in past presidential election years, but that it is impossible to tell until Election Day if those numbers will remain higher than normal.
“If the numbers stick to it ... it appears we would have more turnout than we have in the past,” Sims said. “Or, it means people just voted earlier – wanted to go ahead and get it over with. There’s just no way to tell. What we do expect is a higher number of voters showing up, simply because Wake County has been growing.”
Throughout the ballot, local voters will find plenty of significant local contests.
For the Wake County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education, voters will be electing candidates for districts that have been used in most elections since 2011. Those district were retained after a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that the district lines redrawn by state lawmakers in recent years were unconstitutional.
As a result, all Wake voters will vote for county commissioner candidates in districts 4, 5 and 6.
The race in District 4, extending southwest from downtown Raleigh, features former Wake Commissioner Kenn Gardner (Rep.) and Erv Portman (Dem.). Current board Chairman James West (Dem.) is running unopposed in District 5 (eastern Raleigh), and District 6 (northern Wake) features newcomers John Odom (Rep.), a former Raleigh city councilman and Greg Ford (Dem.).
All nine school board seats are up for election, and voters will chose candidates running in their district on Tuesday.
Current board Chairman Tom Benton is running for re-election for District 1, which covers most of north and eastern Wake County. He is challenged by Donald Agee, Mary Beth Ainsworth and Sheila W. Ellis.
For District 4, which extends from east Raleigh into parts of Knightdale, Keith Sutton is being challenged for his seat on the board by Heather Elliott.
School board District 2 includes an area south of Knightdale. Peter Hochstaetter and Mark A. Ivey are challenging incumbent Monika Johnson-Hostler for her seat.
Senators and representatives
Several other races pertinent to the local region will also be decided Tuesday.
For the U.S. House of Representatives, most eastern Wake voters will decide between incumbent Rep. George Holding, a Republican, and John P. McNeil, a Democrat, for District 2. Holding currently represents District 13, which covers an area similar locally to the District 2 he is now running for under congressional districts redrawn this year.
Some near Knightdale, however, will vote in the U.S. House District 4 race between incumbent Rep. David Price, a Democrat, and Sue Googe, a Republican.
Incumbent Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Republican, will face a challenge by Gil Johnson, a Democrat, for N.C. Senate District 18. That district covers all of Franklin County and a large portion of eastern Wake County, including nearly all of Wendell and Zebulon and areas surrounding the heart of Knightdale.
Incumbent Sen. Dan Blue, a Democrat, is running unopposed for N.C. Senate District 14, which includes much of central Knightdale and forms a hook-shaped area in eastern Wake – extending east toward Wendell, then north toward the Riley Hill community.
Incumbent Rep. Darren Jackson, a Democrat representing the N.C. House District 39 that spans mostly from the central to southern portions of Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon, is running unopposed.
And incumbent Rep. Chris Malone, a Republican, faces a challenge by Terrence Everitt for N.C. House District 35, which covers parts of all three local towns, north to Wake Forest.
All Wake ballots will also ask voters whether they support a one-half cent sales tax increase to be used for pubic transportation systems.
Polling places by town
Knightdale Elementary School
109 Ridge St.
Knightdale United Methodist Church
7071 Forestville Road
Eastern Wake Fire and Rescue
4828 Clifton Road
Hodge Road Elementary School
2128 Mingo Bluff Blvd.
East Wake High School
5101 Rolesville Road
Wendell Middle School
3409 N.C. 97
Carver Elementary School
291 Liles Dean Road
Central Baptist Church
11109 Poole Road
Hopkins Rural Fire Department
8933 Fowler Road
Zebulon Community Center
301 S. Arendell Ave.
Eastern Regional Center
1002 Dogwood Drive