These North Carolina election races might be less prominent but perhaps more critical to everyday life

Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Under the radar NC elections that are sneakily critical
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While not able to sign legislation or enact executive orders, these positions are key influencers of policy and in many cases manage billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Voting is an awesome responsibility, and voters in North Carolina are entrusted with the responsibility to elect more positions in state government than almost every other state in the country.

That includes ten executive-level positions that make up the Council of State, which is led by the Chief Executive - the Governor.

The remaining nine seats, while not able to sign legislation or enact executive orders, are key influencers of policy and in many cases manage billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars, including where the money spent, who benefits from the investment, and how it will help everyday North Carolinians.

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"We elect an auditor that makes sure the books stack up correctly, we elect a person who heads the Department of Public Instruction and is a schools advocate, and Agriculture Commissioner, the person who keeps track of farming and consumer services and agribusiness," Mitch Kokai, Senior Political Analyst at the Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation, said. "The Lieutenant Governor can make a critical tie breaking vote in the Senate. Maybe it's Medicaid Expansion, maybe there's some bond package being considered, or major change in transportation policy or education policy."

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Indeed, the 2020 ballot features candidates for those positions and more: Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Insurance, Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The latter position, especially, will play a prominent role as North Carolina emerges from the pandemic. There are also several issues related to public schools that could dominate the General Assembly.

"I suspect also we're going to see whether there will be support or opposition to school choice and also the future of charter schools," Kokai said. "We have no cap on charter schools but we have some who want to put a cap back on."

Besides the Executive Branch, the Legislative and Judicial Branches of state government are also on the ballot: the House of Representatives and Senate that make up the General Assembly, plus judgeships on the District, Superior, Appellate and Supreme Court levels.

"These are the judges that will hear divorce cases, child custody, murders and domestic violence," Jane Pinsky, Director of the NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform at Common Cause, tells ABC11. "Voters can read up on their opinions. You want to know that they are responsibly jurists, take their roles seriously and are up to date on technology."

The Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are even more vital, Pinsky adds, because of their potential to rule on matters of policy, including partisan redistricting (sometimes known as gerrymandering), school vouchers and reproductive rights.


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