By Martha Bedell Alexander
Former Representative
North Carolina House of Representatives

Back in the early 90’s I decided to pursue an elected office. I had thought for a long time about running for the state legislature. I took the leap and ran for the state senate. The polls showed I would only receive about 18% of the vote. There were people encouraging me to drop out of the race. I remember thinking that if I dropped out of the race and decided to run another time people might not pay me any attention and would not think I was a serious contender because I might drop out again! The bottom line is I received over 40% of the vote in that election.

The next election cycle I ran for the state house. And this time I won the primary by 49 votes. When the recount was completed I gained one more vote. So, I actually won by 50 votes! In this particular election whoever won the primary was the winner since the other party did not have a candidate in the general election. I had the privilege of serving for twenty years. And, only 50 people elected me to office. Look around you today in your office, on the street, in the grocery store and realize you have probably seen more people in those environs than put me in office. Each person’s vote counts.

Back to ‟why vote?”

Many times, particularly in major elections on the state or national level it is sometimes hard to see why it matters. Thousands of votes are cast. Someone might wonder ‟where is my vote?”

After taking the time to vote is the happiness of the voter if the person’s candidate of choice wins; but there is the major disappointment if the person’s candidate is not the winner. What is important is the fact that within our democracy we have the opportunity to vote. And it behooves one to understand that by casting a vote for someone is showing the support of the ideals that candidate has put forth.

By casting a vote also is a sign to the winner that there are people within their constituency who have a different opinion on issues. It gives the winner a way to gauge the issues that have been discussed or ones with which they are confronted. And, by voting the voter has the opportunity in advocating for their causes to remind the winner they are voters and part of their constituency.

There are many ways to learn about the candidates. Newspapers, television, social media, public forums, mailings and a candidate’s campaign events are a few resources to learn more about them. Also, speak to your neighbors, other employees, family and friends. Someone you know might know one of the people running for office. And, do not forget that from the local board of elections you are able to have information about how to contact the candidate. Try to learn about all of the candidates, because you never know who might win and who will be a contact for you on specific issues.

It is also very important to find out the various election contests for the primary and general election. It is imperative to understand the whole ballot is important from local, state and national candidates to those who are running in the judicial branch or other specific offices.

Sometimes people only vote for the president and do not vote for anyone else. That is why I would like to urge you to become aware and knowledgeable for all offices. Each office has a major role to play in either an administrative, legislative or judicial manner. Staying home and not voting is not a very good option. It is giving away our privilege of voicing our opinion. Elected officials are making decisions, rulings and laws which affect us all. Join them by adding your voice as one of their constituents. You can make a difference. Invite someone to join you. Take someone to vote. Do not have an empty car.

Your VOTE makes a difference. I know that personally.

Martha Bedell Alexander
Former Representative
North Carolina House of Representatives


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