Let’s start this off by thanking the gods and goddesses that the POTUS spot isn’t the only game in town in the General Election.
The rest of the choices we’ll be making are hella more important in our everyday lives than the POTUS slot. In fact, the further down your ballot you look, the more directly your life is affected by the election results.
So the disappointing headliner aside, there are gracious plenty other people running for office, some of whom you may even know personally in your local election.
Now depending on your specific location, your ballot may have thirty or forty races in this election!
So pour yourself a drink, and roll up your sleeves—I’ve got some stuff to tell you.
I’m gonna get you all fixed up and ready to vote for the progressive candidates who better represent the direction Americans want to go than the candidates who don’t represent you and me and other nice folks, but instead, the corporations that pay their way and in turn, bamboozle lots of well-meaning folks.
(By the way, it’s my belief that Americans are by and large a live and let live crowd and doesn’t actually want to be all eat up with tyrannical rulers, aristocratic rulers, corporate rulers, or religious rulers. But owing to the fact that Americans are crazy susceptible to the squeaky wheel—whoever that may be at any given time, our ability to think this shit through is currently quite compromised. Hopefully we don’t have to hit rock-bottom before we realize this.)
Now, in the interest of social justice and equality and world peace and sexy stuff like that, I’m going to give you some left-leaning info you can put to use in that voting booth real, real soon.
North Carolina voters, I’ve personalized a few things just for you—look for the state name in bold type. ❤️
But hold your horses, partner—let’s take this one step at a time.
Step 1- Are you registered to vote?
If you’re not sure, go here to find out.
North Carolina voters, check right here.
And shit, the way things are going, I recommend you look yourself up even if you’d swear on a stack of taco trucks that you’re registered. Not kidding here.
Step 2- If not, register now.
If you’re not registered, go here to see the deadlines for registering. A few states will allow you to register on election day, but most don’t go for seat-of-your-pants behavior like that, and some states even require your registration to be postmarked well before election day.
So stop everything and check on this.
If you aren’t registered, or if there’s a problem with your registration, handle it right this red-hot second.
(If you missed the deadline in your state, get your pretty little backside in gear helping progressives anyway—phone bank, knock on doors, find out stuff and share it on social media. You’ll think of something.)
Step 3- How will you vote—early, absentee, or on election day?
Decide sooner rather than later—don’t let it get away from you.
You can click on your state here and find out your state’s basic info, then scroll a little to find out more in the Q&A section on the right.
North Carolina voters, the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is November 1, but don’t wait that long, because you have to mail that sucker back—don’t take any chances! Go here to request your NC absentee ballot.
Step 4- Here’s how to find your sample ballot. Print it.
You’ll want to find out who will be on your specific ballot before you vote—this depends on all the districts and wards that apply to your address. Nothing worse than looking at that ballot for the first time in the voting booth and not knowing who the hell most of those people are. And there are a lot in a presidential year.
So go here and click on your state’s election website. Poke around till you locate the link where you can see what your ballot will look like. (You may have to go through your registration status to find a link to your sample ballot—every state’s website is unique—and some not in a good way. Sorry about that.)
North Carolina voters, after you’ve filled out this form, you’ll see a link at the bottom that says “General,” then some numbers that start with a G… click on these numbers to get to your sample ballot.
Now print your sample ballot—we’re getting ready to prep that baby for the big day.
Note: You have to vote in the state where you’re registered, and in most cases, at your particular polling place.
College students, each state has rules about how you can or can’t vote, so go here to find out your state’s druthers on this.
With your sample ballot in hand, here’s what to do next.
Don’t worry right this second about that first item on your ballot. We’ll come back to that—there’s no shortage of info on that shit-show, and frankly, there are more important races to consider.
Step 5- Take a look at the just-below-the-top races.
You’ll likely see US Senate and US House (“Congress”) next on your ballot. This is where the rubber meets the road, friends—the people who earn these slots will very much determine how the next four+ years go for ordinary Americans. Remember the shutdown? Yeah, those people.
The current situation is this:
US Senate: Republicans—54, Democrats—44, Independent—2
US House: Republicans—247 seats, Democrats—188 (218=majority)
Not good numbers for progressives.
So look at who’s on your ballot, then go here to see if any of them are endorsed by Our Revolution, which is Bernie Sanders’ post-primary movement. We’re talking truly progressive candidates here! You can click on each person’s picture to find out more, including a link to their website.
Hell, just look for your state amongst them all and see who’s got the progressive/Our Revolution high five—then look for those people on your ballot—go ahead and scream BINGO! when you find one, even at a very local level, like school board.
Special love note to North Carolinians, because Deborah Ross, who’s running for US Senate, is one of Our Revolution’s picks. She’s whooping up on some (Republican yes-man) Richard Burr right now, which is damned exciting.
A buddy of mine wrote up a great piece on this very close Senate race right here. The US Senate race in NC could be a game changer for the state (and for the country).
So look, if you’re in North Carolina and have an inkling of what’s happened to the state since the current legislature has all but laid waste to the place, get your fine self out there and vote for Deborah Ross. And take a friend with you.
Seriously, y’all, these races for the Senate and the House are critical and ultimately more important than the attention hog at the top of the ballot.
As progressives and mainline Democrats know, President Obama’s effectiveness was seriously hindered by the Republican-heavy Senate and Congress these last eight years. Likewise, we can either seriously hinder a Republican POTUS, or we can seriously affect how a Democratic POTUS governs.
(And let me clarify; there are US Senators and Congress-people, and there are state-level senators and congress-people. I found this confusing when I was a young voter.)
Step 6- Find out about the candidates for the US Senate and House in your state.
Go here to find out more about each of your state’s candidates. There’s a box on the right where you can click on your state for both the US Senate and the House.
Just look for the candidates with the green check after their name—that’s who won the primary and is actually running in the election right now. Click on each candidate’s name to find out more.
It may be time for you to fix yourself another drink.
Or smoke something; totally up to you.
Step 7- There will be other races in your state—everything from Governor to school board.
Next, or somewhere nearby on your ballot, you’ll see your specific state’s races, such as Governor (in only twelve states and Puerto Rico), Attorney General, your state’s Senate, House of Representatives, Secretary of State, and then some races you haven’t heard a word about, such as “Commissioner of Labor” and “Register of Deeds” and school board races.
You’ll find some of the less glamorous races closer to the end of your ballot. There are probably no TV commercials or billboards for these candidates, but printing out your sample ballot will have you prepared to Google these lovely people. Some of these local-level candidates may very well be on the Our Revolution favorites list, so look there again to see if you’re lucky enough to have any of these progressives running in your state.
Hey, and speaking of governors, North Carolina voters, do your part—it’s time Governor McCrory and his expensive, crippling pet project, HB2 (among other disastrous policies), to be shown the door. We’ve got a good shot at getting a new governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general with this election!
By the way, when you see that someone is running unopposed for an office, you don’t have to vote for them just because they’re on your ballot.
You don’t have to vote for everything on your ballot. This isn’t the SAT—you won’t be penalized for leaving something blank.
This is true especially if you’ve gone over your sample ballot and figured out ahead of time who everyone is, and have determined that, say, Joe Blow, who’s running for Commissioner of Whatever is not only a jackass, but isn’t even your party. Well, you can leave that race blank.
As a special bonus, there are 30+ ballot initiatives on some state’s ballots:
There are initiatives on everything from “right to work” amendment (boo, hiss) in Virginia to a voter registration amendment in Alaska to medical marijuana initiatives in several states. Go here to find out about the progressive stance on these if your state’s ballot is voting on one or more ballot initiatives. Or just take a look to see what your fellow citizens are up to.
Step 8- Who are the judicial candidates on your ballot?
After going through all of these names and races on your ballot, you’re going to arrive at the nonpartisan races.
Judges are “officially” impartial and nonpartisan, but you need to know which side of “nonpartisan” they lean toward, because in most cases, it won’t be listed on your ballot.
Don’t wing it on this!
Judges are a big deal—some of these end up being the ones who are eventually tapped for the US Supreme Court, and obviously we want the cream, not the scum, to rise to the top.
Here’s a good place to check on the general election judicial races—click on your state on the map.
And North Carolinians, you may remember when back in June I advised left-leaners to recite the mantra “Anybody but Edmunds” for NC’s Supreme Court Justice. Well, that’s still the case, so say it with me: Anybody but Edmunds.
Justice Mike Morgan (a Democrat) is the very worthy and able challenger in NC’s Supreme Court race—and my recommendation.
Anyway, go to to your state’s election site and look for information about each candidate. I recommend you also Google your state’s name and “2016 general election judicial races” to get some local info, as the judicial races are plentiful in this election.
North Carolinians, go here. Be sure to scroll to the part where the candidates appear—and keep scrolling when it looks like you’ve reached the end of the candidates, because there’s more after some oddly-placed forms.
Step 9- Finally, the President and Vice-President.
Back to the weird and unpleasant POTUS race.
As we all well know by now because the news and nearly everything else is just a bunch of Clinton this and Trump that icky blah-ness anymore, these two are the front runners.
So you’ll see Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine listed as the Democrats, and you’ll see Donald J. Trump and Michael R. Pence listed as the Republicans.
But you may not realize you’ll also see Libertarians Gary Johnson (for President) and William Weld (for VP) on your ballot. The Libertarian party has been doing years of legwork to make this happen.
You’ll see Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka on the ballot in 47 states and Washington, D.C. You’ll be able to write in Stein-Baraka in North Carolina, Georgia, and Indiana. You will not be able to vote for the Green Party at all in Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
There are other candidates who’ll show up on some states’ ballots, but not all. Check this out for all the options—it’s quite entertaining and enlightening, actually.
So a word about writing in a vote.
If you plan to write in a candidate, check your state’s election site to be sure your vote will actually be counted.
While you may be able to physically write someone in, each state has its own way of handling which write-in votes will even be counted.
In 30+ states, a candidate is required to register in advance in order to qualify as a write-in candidate, and only seven states allow un-registered write-ins. Here’s a little information about write-ins.
In North Carolina, a write-in at the POTUS level for anyone other than the Green Party isn’t going to be accepted this year (unless you have it on good authority that the candidate you want to write in registered to do so by the due date of August 10th, 2016).
So if you write in Michael Jordan or Harry Potter or Gwyneth Paltrow or the Easter Bunny in North Carolina, that vote simply won’t count.
Your whole ballot won’t get thrown out, though—just that vote. (If any of those made-up candidates did in fact properly follow the registration procedure, please send me documentation, and I will stand corrected.)
(North Carolina voters, here are the write-in rules for candidates if you want to investigate.)
Basically, I’m saying that if you want to write in Bernie Sanders in your state, North Carolina included, you need to make sure your vote will be count. Otherwise, choose from those on your ballot, or write in someone you know is qualified for a write-in vote in your state. Or skip it if your conscience says to do so.
Just be aware that write-ins are in no way a sure vote. Do your research—it’s hazy territory.
A couple more notes.
If you’re all kinds of lost or just have a quick question, call your local election board (Google them). It may be difficult to get your state officials on the phone, so try the local office first. Insider tip: If you live in a big town, making it no simpler to get a live human on the phone, call the election board of a smaller town in your state. They have the same info.
For those who are interested in political revolution, check out JackPineRadicals.com‘s down-ballot forum, highlighting and expanding on the myriad non-POTUS races. If lefty, revolutionary talk aggravates you, then ignore this.
Finally, equality-minded North Carolina voters, here are a couple of voting guides/cheat sheets/endorsement lists for you. Just do your due diligence and consider who the folks listed are, as there are no links provided for these candidates.
- Here’s this one from the lovely and hardworking people at Equality NC.
- Here’s this one from the Greensboro, NC china, crystal, and flatware company, Replacements, Ltd.’s PAC (political action committee).
And there you have it, left-leaners, your 2016 voting guide.
Thanks for sticking around to the end of this. It’s a big year, a lot is at stake, and I want you to feel confident with your vote.
I know it’s easy to think your vote doesn’t matter, and this year, it’s easy to worry that your vote literally won’t count, but nevertheless, friends, it’s your precious American vote to do with as you please.
I hope you’ll take your vote seriously and not take it for granted, or blow it off this year due to the ad nauseum news about the featured attraction.
Consider this information my gift to you as you go forth to vote wisely and intentionally.
May America somehow come out for the better on the other side of this dreadful election year.
May our adolescence not be the end of us.
May we not succumb to anger and hate.
And may we realize in the most wonderful of ways that we’re all one living, breathing being on this earth together.
Now, go out there and be the change you want to see.
Peace and love and fizzy sunshine from me to you, friends.
See you at the polls.