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A lot of North Carolinians are voting early, and this is good.  A lot of North Carolinians are voting straight-party tickets, and hopefully they're reading the instructions before they do so.  Because those instructions are important.  So if you plan to vote straight party, please read ALL of the notes.  Otherwise, you may not be casting the ballot you think you are.  The instructions are the same for all ballots in all districts, but the B of E arranged them with probably the most important item listed last.  So as a public service, you can find an annotated copy below the fold.

a. Unless otherwise noted, a Straight Party
vote is a vote for ALL candidates of that party
in PARTISAN OFFICES. It is not necessary
to mark individual candidates for PARTISAN
OFFICES if you vote a Straight Party.
There are several important exceptions to (a) above, most notably (e).
b. You may vote a Straight Party AND ALSO
vote for a candidate of a different party in any
individual office.
I don't know why anyone would mark the straight party box and then vote against the party in an individual race, but you can if you want to.
c. In any multi-seat office, a Straight Party
vote is a vote for ALL candidates of that party.
If you individually vote for any candidate in a
multi-seat office, you must also individually
mark all other candidates in that office for
whom you wish to vote in order for all votes
for that office to be counted.
Item (c) requires a couple of readings to understand, but I think it mainly applies to county commissioners and school board races where several seats are contested.  So if three seats on the county board of commissioners are being contested, and you vote a straight Dem ticket, it votes for the Democrats running for all three seats.
d. If you do not vote a Straight Party below,
you may vote by marking each office
separately.
The only reason I can think of for including (d) is that it's one more thing to read before you get to the really important item below making it just that much more likely that you'll get bored and stop before you get there.
e. A Straight Party vote does not include US
President and Vice President, unaffiliated
candidates, nonpartisan offices, issues or
referenda.
Item (e) above is the "gotcha" that could make or break the presidential race.  More importantly, it could make or break judicial races that have an even greater direct impact on you personally.  Yes, there is a chance that a roughly equal number of people on each side will miss this provision.  But do you really want to take that chance?
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:25:49 AM PDT

  •  Part e WTF?! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Liberal in PA, gooners, weck, Sylv

    That should be part a!

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:31:03 AM PDT

    •  Ya think? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gooners, weck

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:40:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The presidential ballot comes first. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bear83, Sylv, Enterik

      THEN the straight party voting. Some people may make the mistake, but it's VERY obvious that the Presidential vote is separate.  

    •  Signs are posted at the voting booth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, Enterik

      telling people that you vote for Pres separately and then straight party. That's the way it was in 2008 and we won, so I don't think it's a real problem.

      I voted today and the poll worker reminded me that I had to vote for the president separately and then straight party. I overheard all the poll workers making that clear.

      Plus the presidential vote is the first one on the ballot and then you vote for anyone else. NC may be backward in some things but voting has been fairly simple.

      He's not perfect, nobody is, but he is my President. Obama 2012.

      by emcneill on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:55:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just a little (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck

    election fraud from the charming Republican party, don'tcha know.

    I am a 67 year old teacher...teaching computer applications in a Texas high school. I've already retired once but it didn't take.

    by 43yearsateacher on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:36:18 AM PDT

    •  What's so frustrating... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weck

      ...is that our Secretary of State is a Democrat!

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:41:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  NC Sec of State has nothing to do with it (0+ / 0-)

        The ballots are designed by the NC Board of Elections. They do not report to the NC Sec of State.

        NC-4 (soon to be NC-6) Obama/Biden 2012

        by bear83 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:49:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The board is appointed by the Governor, though (0+ / 0-)

          which is an office that's been held by one Dem or another since Jim Martin exited stage right in 1993.

          The Secretary of  State still has to certify the returns (or more accurately the BOE's certification of the returns) which is probably what took me down that path.

          I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

          by mojo11 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 12:28:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It has been like this forever. In most places (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bear83, highacidity

      poll workers and Party reps tell people about it. It isn't fraud. The ballot has the presidential candidates listed then below you straight party-so the default if you work in order, is to vote for the presidential candidates first. Could it be easier- absolutely. Is it fraud- no.

    •  No... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bear83

      the first thing on the ballot is presidential race. THEN it's straight party voting. It is not ambiguous.

    •  Actually, it is an effort at incumbent protection (0+ / 0-)

      by Democrats.

      Before 2008, NC had not gone for the Democrat in the presidential race since Carter in 1976. In fact, it hasn't been close most years.

      Rather than having a lot of NC Democrats get swept out with the Reagan tide in the 80's, the Presidential race was separated from the straight party line to protect state-level Democratic office holders.

      NC-4 (soon to be NC-6) Obama/Biden 2012

      by bear83 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 11:52:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  you are not looking at the whole ballot (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, bear83

    You are not looking at the whole ballot. Check one here:
    http://www.ncsbe.gov/...
    the FIRST thing on the ballot is President/VP. It states
    "The offices of President and Vice President of
    the United States are not included in a
    Straight Party vote. This contest must be
    voted separately."

    The a b c d e instructions later on down the page for straight ticket do say president is separate, but the point of the later instruction is for people who are voting straight ticket.  After telling them what it means it then as the last instruction points back up to president, which presumably they have already voted for.

    We have had this system in NC since 1965. In 2008 over 50% of the voters marked staright ticket, and the drop off for President (which is above the straight ticket) was 0.9%, much less than the drop off for any other office. Education is important, but this has not proved to be an actual problem

     

  •  I remember this from 2008 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck

    when I lived in NC. I think I found out about it here, but there were Democratic campaign workers pointing it out too. I remember seeing that this was put in place with the Republican Southern Strategy, so the Dixiecrats didn't accidentally voting for a Democratic president. And if it made it more difficult for other Democrats to vote straight ticket, that's just gravy.

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