Eyes on the

Published 7:56 pm Sunday, April 27, 2008

By Staff
Old North State
Get ready Tarheels, the spotlight will be on North Carolina come May 6.
In the race to become the Democratic nominee for president, North Carolina’s primary looms as a key state for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to win. North Carolina sends 115 delegates to the Democrats’ national convention. It’s the largest prize among the remaining contests along the way to the convention.
Winning the North Carolina primary would give Obama more of a cushion in the lead he now enjoys when it comes to delegates already won. A Clinton victory in North Carolina would greatly support her contention she’s more electable than Obama and the Democrat who has the better chance of defeating Republican John McCain in the general election.
It’s been 20 years since North Carolina has had much of a say in picking a presidential nominee. This year, the Old North State’s voice will be heard nationwide.
The race between Clinton and Obama is drawing attention. Anything that gets voters interested and to the polls is a good thing.
During the first three months of this year, a little more than 165,000 people have registered to vote in North Carolina. That’s almost three times the number of people who registered to vote during first three months of 2004, the last presidential primary in the state.
Officials with the State Board of Elections expect a record turnout May 6, according to a report by The Associated Press. Those officials believe about half of the 5.7 million registered voters in the state will mark ballots, compared to previous turnouts ranging from 16 percent to 31 percent.
Another factor could result in high voter turnout for the May 6 primaries.
A law that took effect last year allows qualified residents to register to vote and mark ballots on the same day during the early voting period. Because the new procedure is permitted only during the early-voting period, it cannot be used on Election Day, before the early voting period or the days between the end of the early voting period and Election Day or the day primaries are held.
The new law doesn’t require people who register to vote during the early voting period to mark ballots on the day they register. After registering, a voter may vote later, as long as it’s during the early voting period. That early voting period ends May 3.
By midafternoon Wednesday, according to state elections officials, a little more than 74,700 one-stop ballots had been marked, according to an AP report.
North Carolina Democratic voters need to be reminded that if it’s their destiny to play a key role in determining who will be the Democratic nominee, then they must carefully consider what Clinton and Obama have to offer and pick the person who is the best choice to lead the country if elected president in the fall.
To borrow from a previous editorial, over the years, Tarheel voters have usually done nothing more than provide window dressings for previous presidential primaries. This year, North Carolina may provide the window through which the world looks to see who the Democratic nominee and the possible next president will be.
What happens in North Carolina on May 6 has a strong possibility of determining who gets the Democratic nomination and who becomes the next president. By voting, Tarheel voters may put themselves in the position of helping to make history.
As for that spotlight, North Carolina voters should enjoy it for several days — before turning their attention to the Nov. 4 general election.