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voteThe good people at the NC Conservation Network have created two excellent new websites to use and share as widely as possible in order to encourage participation in the upcoming election:

First, is an interactive map of North Carolina early voting locations and times. Click here to check it out.

It’s a great way for people to quickly and easily find early vote locations near them. You can go to this page, type in your address at the top right, and the map should locate the nearest early voting location (but double-check to be sure it is within your county). You can also get driving directions to the early site by clicking on the address of the early vote location.

Second, is the Facebook page: I’m Voting in North Carolina. As the site notes:

“This page is a resource for voters and potential voters in North Carolina to get non-partisan information about voting, elections, and the election process in North Carolina. By liking this page, you’ll get timely reminders about where and when to vote in North Carolina.”

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Last night, the Greenville City Council voted to ask the North Carolina General Assembly for the right to explore voter-owned elections at the local level. The city joins Wilmington (February) and Raleigh (January) in adopting such a measure.

Voter-owned elections are a proven method of dislodging special interest money from the political process, and empowering citizen participation in democracy. The idea is that candidates should get their campaign money from small donors in their constituency, as well as a public fund, rather than soliciting big money contributions that often come with strings attached.

In 2009, the Town of Chapel Hill became the first community east of the Mississippi to conduct a voter-owned election; the top 2 vote-getters were both voter-owned.

Currently, cities must ask the state for special permission even to consider campaign reform. But with more and more communities joining the chorus for change, the legislature has every reason to grant them reform authority in the upcoming short session.