One political race in Charlotte is headed to overtime.
The City Council race for District 5 — which encompasses much of east Charlotte — will be settled in a runoff election, also known as a second primary.
Two Democrats — Darrell Bonapart and Matt Newton — will be on the ballot. The winner will earn the City Council seat, since there’s no Republican challenger in this race.
Election Day will be October 10, but early voting starts today.
Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Why is there a runoff election?
Under Charlotte’s system of voting in municipal races, a second primary can be held if no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote.
District 5’s Democratic primary had a lot of candidates, and that’s exactly what happened.
Newton, who finished in second place in the first primary, requested the second primary last week.
Who are these guys?
From my guide:
Darrell Bonapart has made numerous runs for a variety of offices over the past decade, all of them unsuccessful but several of them close. He’s an Army veteran and has the endorsement of the Black Political Caucus.
Matt Newton is an attorney at his own firm that focuses heavily on indigent services. He’s active in the local chapter of the ACLU and has the endorsement of MeckPAC/Equality NC.
Can I vote?
First off, you have to live in District 5. It’s the area in green in the maps below.
If you’re not sure about your district, you can look yourself up here. If you’re not in here, you’re not a registered voter and you won’t be able to hit up this primary (but you should definitely get registered!)
Even if you did not vote in the first primary, you can vote in the second primary. However, you have to be a registered Democrat or unaffiliated. Registered Republicans may not vote in this election.
Can I vote early?
Yes. Early voting starts today (Monday, September 25) and runs through October 7.
Early voting this week will only be at the Hal Marshall Center in Uptown. On Monday, early voting will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Then the rest of the week, early voting will be available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Next week, another early voting site will open at Independence Regional Library.
Full early voting details here.
Will my vote matter?
Tremendously. Did you see that vote breakdown at the top? There were only about 250 votes separating these two candidates, and Bonapart only received 1,400 votes.
Vote totals will likely be even lower in this second primary, particularly without a mayoral runoff. The last time there was City Council district runoff (in 2013), the turnout was 1.68 percent. The winners received less than 1,000 votes.
Every individual vote will mean a lot.
What if I don’t live in this area?
Well then, you’ll just sit tight. No other races are heading to a second primary this year.
The general election will be held November 7.
Early voting will start October 19.