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Our Opinion: Today’s the day to cast your vote in Wilson County

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If you don’t think your vote can make a difference today, you haven’t done the math.

Let’s crunch the numbers: There are 55,439 registered voters in Wilson County. Only Democrats (29,034) and unaffiliated voters (12,734) are eligible to participate in the biggest local contest — the Democratic primary for Wilson County sheriff. That’s 41,768 people who can pick the county’s chief law enforcement officer.

As of Friday afternoon, the second-to-last day of early voting, the Wilson County Board of Elections said about 6 percent of eligible voters in all primaries had cast a ballot.

Roughly 2,500 people have weighed in on who should be sheriff in a county of more than 81,000 souls. And those votes are split between three candidates — incumbent Calvin Woodard Jr. and challengers Chris Boykin and Dinise Williams.

After a months-long campaign, it may feel like the 2018 primaries are almost over. But when it comes to casting and counting votes, they’re just getting started.

The 2016 primaries saw 33 percent turnout in Wilson County. If participation this year is similar, that means thousands of ballots — more than enough to determine the election’s outcome — will be cast today.

To our knowledge, no think tanks or nonpartisan polling agencies have surveyed Wilson County voters on the sheriff race. The candidates, their supporters and voters themselves are flying blind. We don’t know who’s in the lead after early voting, and we have no way to know how close this election could be.

The margins could be wide or slim as a razor’s edge. And your vote — or decision not to vote — could have an outsize impact on the election returns reported tonight.

Democrats and unaffiliated voters who choose the Democratic ballot will also pick the party’s congressional nominee. Linda Coleman, Wendy Ella May and Ken Romley are vying to advance to November’s general election in the 2nd Congressional District.

On the Republican ballot, Rep. George Holding of Raleigh faces a challenge from Spring Hope-area conservative Allen Chesser. The winner will face Coleman, May or Romley in November.

Sharpsburg’s residents who live in Wilson County — the town is split between Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe — will elect a new mayor. Last November’s contest between incumbent Randy Weaver and challenger Robert Williams Jr. came down to the wire. Weaver held onto his gavel, but irregularities in the race resulted in state officials ordering a new election.

The Wilson Times does not endorse candidates for public office. It’s up to you to decide who is best suited to run the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, represent the 2nd District in Congress and lead the town of Sharpsburg. However, we do encourage you to vote today regardless of who you support.

To have the best chance of electing your favored candidates, it’s safest to assume the candidates you oppose will have 100 percent turnout. By blowing off the primaries, you could be unwittingly helping the other side achieve victory.

If you are registered to vote and have not yet cast your ballot, now is the time. Exercise your right to participate in our American democracy.

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today.  To find your polling place, you can look up your voter registration on the N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement website at https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/. If you have questions or need assistance to vote, call the Wilson County Board of Elections office at 252-399-2836.

Don’t let this chance to stand up and be counted slip away.

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