It’s still a billion degrees outside — but it’s already time to start voting in this fall’s election cycle.
Early voting begins today (Thursday) in the primary election in this year’s slate of municipal races.
The big things on the ballot: The mayor’s race and City Council contests.
Where can I vote early?
Early voting will begin at the Hal Marshall Center in Uptown this week and next.
Coming back from Labor Day weekend, early voting will be available in eight other locations scattered around the city.
The SouthPark location that’s generally at Morrison Library has moved because of construction there. The new SouthPark polling place is in the Rexford Park I building down the street.
Who’s on the ballot?
The headline race is the one for Charlotte mayor. There is a heated primary on the Democratic side, and given Charlotte’s voter demographics, the winner will have an inside track to winning the general election in November.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts faces two big-name primary challengers: Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles and N.C. Sen. Joel Ford.
A candidate needs to get 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election.
All 11 City Council seats are also up for grabs, but two of them — District 3 and District 7 — do not have a contested primary.
If you’re a registered Democrat, you must vote in the Democratic primary. Same for Republicans and the GOP primary. Unaffiliated voters can choose which party primary to vote in.
When is the primary’s Election Day?
September 12 is the official Election Day for the primary. You’ll have to vote in your standard precinct polling place if you wait until that day.
There will be no concern about lines, though, since turnout is usually abysmal.
Why should I care about the primary?
In a city like Charlotte, the primary election is often even more consequential than the general election. And it’s also sparsley attended, making voter turnout efforts even more meaningful.
Charlotte has not had a Republican mayor since Pat McCrory left office in 2009.
And in three of the seven City Council districts, there won’t even be a general election because there are only Democratic candidates.
When’s the general election?
The general election will be held November 7. There will, of course, be an early voting period before that.
There could potentially be a primary run-off held October 10. We won’t know until the first primary is held.
Look for more coverage of the primary election in the coming days.