Monday, October 13, 2008

Your State, Your Rights - Vote!

Elections are getting quite a bit of press this year, and I know here in the ENC office we feel this election is extremely important for the LGBT community.

voting graphic

I’ve heard more people talking about this election than the one we had four years ago, and that one generated a ton of discussion. I’m sensing a lot less division amongst the public in general, though, and I’m surprised and pleased at the attention North Carolina is now getting as a swing state. It’s thrilling to listen to BBC radio and have them cut to interviews in Durham, NC.

People still have differences of opinion, obviously, but somehow the disagreements don’t seem quite as vociferous. People, in general, seem to feel that it’s time for a change. (Are you better off today than you were four/six/eight years ago? Vote accordingly!)

Though the national campaigns in general, and the presidential one in particular, tend to get all of the press, people need to remember that it’s the local elections and local races that have the most direct affect on our day-to-day lives.

For example, Equality NC has made a lot of progress for gay folks in the NC legislature in the past few years, but an antigay governor would basically stop and potentially undo the progress we’ve made.

Similarly, North Carolina has its first openly gay statewide judge running as an incumbent in the appeals court. His presence as an out official sends a powerful message to the legislature when they’re considering issues that affect the LGBT community, and losing him would make it easier for legislators to ignore our issues and our community’s voice.

[You can find a list of openly gay officials on the ENC website at Please let us know of any additions or corrections.]

Along with discussion about the election, however, I’ve also seen and heard a lot of misinformation.

The New York Times ran an article alleging voter registration irregularities in North Carolina, which the state board of election rebuts in this PDF press release. I had a friend of mine talk about hearing that early votes were only counted in the event of a tie, which is totally untrue.

We’re just a few days away from the start of early voting, and it behooves everyone to understand their voting rights and responsibilities.

You can find all the information you need to register, confirm your registration, find your polling place, find out who can vote, and find answers to common questions at the NC State Board of Elections website.

What will be this year’s election results? It’s our decision, each one of us, and only time will tell ….

-T. Shawn Long

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