Settling differences: The why and how of voting

Settling differences: The why and how of voting
August 09
13:47 2022

By Howard Pearre

“We settle our differences at the ballot box. Sometimes my choice prevails, sometimes yours does.”

This is what U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Select Committee on the January 6 attack, said.

“We cast our votes. We count the votes. If something seems off with the results, we can challenge them in court, and then we accept the results. When you’re on the losing side, that doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it. And in the United States, there’s plenty you can do and say so. You can protest. You can organize. You can get ready for the next election to try to make sure your side has a better chance the next time the people settle their differences at the ballot box.”

These were the words Rep. Thompson used to open the seventh televised public hearing on July 12.

Election Day Nov. 8 will be a day we settle our differences. 

If you want to get a head start, here are some steps to take. Today is not too early.

Check Registration

Check your registration status to assure you will be able to vote without a hassle. Google NC VOTER SEARCH and click on VOTER SEARCH-NC SBE. This will take you to a website where you can easily check your (or any other voter’s) registration status (“active,” “inactive,” or “name not listed”) and check to assure your address is correct. If it’s not, you may run into problems voting. 

While you’re at that site you can also check where you are assigned to vote and pull up a sample ballot for your specific precinct. If your status is “active,” your listed address is current, and your name is listed correctly, you are good to go.

If your status is “inactive,” if your name is not in the database, if you have recently moved to or within Forsyth County, or if you have changed your name, you will need to submit an updated Voter Registration Application to the Forsyth County Board of Elections.

If you have an N.C. drivers license, you can submit a new or updated registration online. The Division of Motor Vehicles’ website can be used to update a voter registration or register for the first time. Google REGISTER TO VOTE ONLINE NC, select OFFICIAL NCDMV: VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION, select GET STARTED, select CONTINUE TO MY NCDMV SERVICES, select CONTINUE AS GUEST and select SUBMIT A VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION to use this free service.

If you’d rather handle this with paper, you can get a form from the board of elections office. Or, you can Google NC VOTER REGISTRATION FORM, select VOTER REGISTRATION FORM – NCSBE, and print an application after filling in the information. Mail it or hand carry it to the Forsyth County Board of Elections’ office at the Forsyth County Government Center, 201 North Chestnut Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. 

Request Absentee Ballot

North Carolina law allows any registered voter to vote by mail without specifying a reason. Google and select DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS TO VOTE BY MAIL/ NCSBE. You can use the “NC Absentee Ballot Request portal” to file your request online. Or, you can complete and print out the “Absentee Ballot Request Form for 2022” from the website and mail it to the Forsyth County Board of Elections. The board will send out absentee ballots, with instructions and an official return envelope, starting  Sept. 9. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can call the board of elections at 336-703-2800 to ask that a ballot request form be mailed to you, or you can visit a public library and request that one be printed for you.

Early Voting

Another way to get a head start is to prepare to vote early. For the Nov. 8 election, early voting will be available from Oct. 20 through Nov. 5 at 12 locations including Brown and Douglas Community Center, Mazie Woodruff Center, Southside Branch Library, and the WSSU Anderson Center. You are allowed to vote early at any of the early voting locations in your home county without regard to your address. Also, if for some reason you still are unregistered, or if you need to correct your address or your name, you can take care of these issues at the same time at an early voting site. To do this and vote at the same time, you will need to provide documentation related to the change such as your driver’s license, a utility bill with your address, or a current college/university photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation.

November 8

If your choice is to vote on Election Day, Nov. 8, the polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. If you choose this option, you must vote at your assigned polling place. If you have moved but not updated your registration with your new address, you may have to vote with a provisional ballot which then would have to be approved or denied by a special board of elections team. 

November 8 is when we settle our differences. Registering and voting is how. Get ready. 

For more information about voting, refer to the NC Board of Elections webpage NCSBE.GOV.

Howard Pearre retired after a career as a counselor and manager with N.C. Vocational Rehabilitation and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. He has led training workshops on voter registration and is a board member with Winston-Salem Writers.

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