AshevilleHendersonvilleLeslee Kulba

Have All Your Friends Voted?

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Too much wisdom has been shared through the ages on the need to elect wise and just leadership. Comments range from Plato’s “Your silence gives consent,” to the Biblical “when the wicked rule the people mourn.” One vote does not count, but in the days leading to the election, concerned citizens are urged to sift through lies and distortions in political campaigns to identify wise and just leaders, and when they find them, to spread the word like crazy.

Candidates are expected to sling mud for little minds to lap up. Mass media tells the populace they love punky potshots more than facts because that is what they, the media, are selling. For that reason, it is highly recommended that one refer to candidates’ own web sites for information. Sure, they will cherry-pick and accentuate the positive. But what they think is positive is usually enough to define which ones lean which way.

Media outlets are taking a preposterous role in framing events, telling voters what they just heard a candidate say is not what he just said. Sound bites can be taken out of context. This year, the media is really getting hammered for filtering out candidates they do not like. Debate moderators are accused of lobbing softballs to some and, while not hardballing the guys they’re trying to underdog, asking weird questions with embedded false accusations. Sean Hannity is now going after Ann Coulter for misrepresenting his assessment of a hot candidate topic.

It is sad indeed when voters expect anything trying to get into the most respected offices of government to be a filthy, dirty liar. Anybody appearing to have character elicits reactions of, “What’s your game?”

At higher levels of government, deceit can become very complex. However, a good way to find a good federal-level candidate this year is to look at their hashtags. If one finds a candidate’s Twitter page covered in guano from hovering vampires, one has probably found a winner. At the last look at Twitter, the Zodiac killer was running against the KKK, and the guy with the disarming smile and screaming groupies was just great with insults. Does nobody care about rogue enemy nations, rising taxes for expanding government, or the slamming down of free speech and freedom of religion?

Voters might also beware of complex campaign finance law that, with equal time requirements, etc., prevents media outlets from speaking frankly. Political correctness further prevents yours truly from labeling one candidate a Constitutional stalwart and another a jackbottom.

To reiterate, most people realize the power of a single vote is not worth the days of research needed to feel comfortable that one is making the right decision. But when one does reach that level of comfort, the adage about “when you have been warned warn your neighbor” may tug at the heartstrings. With today’s technology, it is easy to connect with a campaign and patch into door-knocking or telemarketing campaigns. But since that is not usually appreciated, one might consider talking to one’s friends face-to-face or on the phone, Facebooking, or Tweeting. Yours truly spammed an email endorsement to friends, and the response has been pleasantly surprising. The following is provided as a service to help Dear Reader organize his own little GOTV campaign.

Early voting takes place this year March 3-11. Locations are the Buncombe County Administration Building at 200 College Street; the Black Mountain, South Buncombe, Leicester, West Asheville, Fairview, and North Asheville libraries; New Hope Presbyterian Church; Weaverville Town Hall; Asheville Outlets; and the Asheville Mall. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 on Saturday. 200 College Street will be open two hours earlier and later than the other sites Monday-Friday.

New voter ID laws are now in effect. A simple driver’s license, even one expired for up to four years, will work. One may also use a DMV-issued ID, a US passport, a military ID, or Veterans Affairs ID. If one cannot present any of the above, one may still vote a provisional ballot after completing a Reasonable Impediment Declaration.

To avoid surprises in the voting booth, it is recommended one review a copy of the ballot he will be using. Buncombe County is divided into NC Senate Districts 48 and 49, and House Districts 114, 115, and 116. County commissioners are also elected by districts. To download the appropriate ballot, visit Persons registered as Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian may only vote in their respective primaries. Persons registered as Unaffiliated may vote in the primary of their choice, but they may not pick and choose candidates across party lines.

Offices on the ballot this time around are US president, US senate, US House of Representatives Districts 10 and 11, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, commissioner of labor, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner or insurance, NC secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, state treasurer, NC Senate District 48, NC House District 115, county commission chair, and county commissioners for Districts 1 and 2.

Redistricting has affected portions of Buncombe County. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts denied a request to stay the decision of a federal judicial panel requiring Districts 1 and 12 to be redrawn. The redrawing necessarily impacted other districts; consequently, some people in Congressional Districts 10 and 11 (now led by Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows) will change places. Because many had already filled out absentee ballots before the decision came down, a special primary will be held June 7.

Also on the ballot is a bond referendum. If approved, the state would borrow $2 billion, repayable with interest, to construct: $980 million for University of North Carolina capital improvement projects, $350 million for community college capital projects, $309.5 million for for waterworks, $94 million for a new Department of Agriculture laboratory, $85 million for a NC State plant sciences building, $75 million for state parks, $70 million for National Guard capital projects, $25 million for a new Africa Pavilion at the NC Zoo, $8.5 million for a training academy for criminal justice system officers, and $3 million for parks for children and veterans with disabilities. Contrary to advertisements, this is what was stated in the bond referendum as approved by the General Assembly.

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