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.
District 2 includes much of Garner, Willow Springs and parts of Southeast Raleigh, Fuquay-Varina and Knightdale. Peter Hochstaetter will challenge incumbent and school board Vice Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler.
Hochstaetter is running as a supporter of neighborhood schools and an opponent of raising taxes. Hochstaetter sends his daughter to a private school, but the corporate trainer says he’s a voice for parents who will support families in whatever option they choose to help ensure the achievement of their children.
Johnson-Hostler says she will continue to focus on increasing access to pre-K, increasing pay for educators and supporting staff and community involvement in schools. The executive director of N.C. Coalition Against Sexual Assault has also made fighting food insecurity and ensuring equitable school funding part of her campaign platform.
Senators and representatives
Several other races pertinent to the local region will also be decided Tuesday.
For the U.S. House of Representatives, most Garner 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 in Garner, 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 most of Garner, all of Franklin County and a large portion of eastern Wake County.
Incumbent Sen. Dan Blue, a Democrat, is running unopposed for N.C. Senate District 14, which includes only a small portion of Garner on the east side of town.
Incumbent Rep. Darren Jackson, a Democrat representing the N.C. House District 39 that spans north Garner and the Lake Benson area is running unopposed. A small portion in the eastern part of Garner will vote in District 33, for Rosa Gill, a democrat, who is also running unopposed.
And incumbent Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Republican, faces a challenge by Democrat Jennifer Ferrell and Libertarian Brian Irving for N.C. House District 36, which parts of Garner along U.S. 401.
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 in Garner
Precinct 16-02: Creech Road Elementary - 450 Creech Road, Garner
Precinct 16-03: Garner Advent Christian Church - 1120 Vandora Springs Road, Garner
Precinct 16-04: Aversboro Elementary -1605 Aversboro Road, Garner
Precinct 16-05: Smith Elementary School - 1101 Maxwell Drive, Raleigh
Precinct 16-06: Southeast Regional Library - 908 Seventh Ave., Garner
Precinct 16-07: Heather Hills Clubhouse - 901 Claymore Drive, Garner