Zack Jenio

Last week, Talley Student Union opened its doors to early voting for the 2020 primaries from Feb. 13-29, with primary election day on March 3. For those voting in Wake County, the ballots include the presidential nominee as well other positions, such as North Carolina senators, governor, attorney general, etc.

With current media and coverage, one can argue that this is one of the most publicized and spoken-about election years in recent history, with a majority of coverage being on the presidential race, specifically focusing on the Democratic presidential nominee. While an important election and nomination is decided during this primary season, there are nine other races for North Carolina representative positions in the Senate, as well as a multitude of North Carolina-specific positions.

It is important for all voters, regardless of political affiliation, to care about and vote for the other races in the primaries for their political party. Understanding that the president only has so much power, and the other positions hold responsibilities that greatly affect North Carolinians, one could even go as far as to argue it is more important to be educated about these candidates and what they stand for.

For example, the Democratic primary race for North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture is between Walter Smith and Jenna Wadsworth. Although Wake residents with little personal connection to agriculture might feel like the choice would not affect them, both candidates bring up multiple points and aspects of the candidacy that affect all residents of the state as well as college students.

For example, both candidates speak about the hemp industry and make claims regarding their views on cannabis legalization in the state. Nationwide, the number of college students who have used marijuana in the past month is about 17%, and closer to home, UNCW reported this number to be around 26% of its students, so it’s safe to say candidates’ perspectives on this topic will affect a significant percentage of college students across the state.

Similarly, on the Republican ballot for U.S. Senate, when presented with relevant environmental policy, candidates Larry Holmquist and Sharon Y. Hudson had different answers. One candidate wanted to remain with the Trump administration’s position against the EPA, while the other argued health concerns from environmental problems cause an immediate threat to North Carolina residents. Again, knowing the candidates’ perspectives on these topics and issues is crucial to knowing who to vote for and support for the November elections.

If you are able to vote, then it is your duty to educate yourself on the candidates, rather than not voting because “you just don’t know.” There are individuals in our nation, such as incarcerated individuals and non-citizens, who cannot vote, and it truly is an abuse of privilege to not vote or to vote randomly.

Preparing to vote is not a difficult task. Online sites such as vote411.org, a nonpartisan site that provides information regarding all candidates for all elections as well as information on absentee voting, voter registration and other voting logistics, gives voters the opportunity to view brief candidate bios that are specific to their ballots as well as answers to various questions to gain insight into the campaigns.

Voting doesn’t need to feel like a test. It’s even possible to take notes with you into the voting booth so that you can make the decision that is right for you. So, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t be educated and prepared to vote for all of the races represented on your ballot during the primaries. Every position matters, and every candidate can affect your life as well as the lives of everyone in the state. Hence, it’s important to focus on the other races in the primaries.

I'm a second-year studying Biological Sciences with a minor in Middle East Studies. I have written with the Technician since the fall of 2018, specifically as a staff columnist for the opinion section.