The difficulty in searching for voter registration records is supplying someone's first name. The North Carolina Board of Elections Public Voter Search form, in addition to the last name, requires at least one letter of the person’s first name. Without it, searching takes a lot more effort and is usually supplements with searches of other websites. Other fields such as county and birthday can be used to narrow the search. The search the UNC Board of Governors members and nominees that last few days was so interesting that a search started for various people at The News & Observer seemed to be in order. The results were interesting, to say the least. Perception is not necessarily reality.
Most readers of The N&O probably think registration with the Democratic Party would be the norm, but in reality, most writers (news and editorial) are registered “unaffiliated.” As a registered "unaffiliated," along with voting in general elections, the voter may choose with which party—Republican or Democratic—to vote in primary elections. The NC voter registration website displays voting history including the party with which the unaffiliated voters participated in primary elections. Here’s brief look at some of the better-known personalities at The News & Observer with title, race, gender and voter registration, and primary participation:
- Orage Quarles, Publisher, black, male, unaffiliated: Voted in a non-partisan primary election in 2014, in the Republican primary in 2012, in a non-partisan primary in 2010, and in the Democratic primary in 2008.
- John Dresher, Executive Editor, white, male, unaffiliated: Voted in the Republican primaries in 2014, 2012 and 2010, but in the Democratic primaries in 2008 and 2006.
- Rob Christensen, political columnist, white, male, unaffiliated: Since 2005, he has only voted four times and each time was in the Cary NC municipal elections. It seems he writes about but does not participate in state and national elections, according the the records at the NC Board of Elections.
- Burgetta Wheeler, Op-Ed Page Editor, white, female, unaffiliated: Voted in the Republican primaries in 2014 and 2012.
- J. Andrew Curliss, Capitol Editor, white, male, unaffiliated: Voted in non-partisan elections in 2014 and 2012 and twice in Democratic primaries in 2006;
Two interesting search attempts:
- Daniel S. (Dan) Kane, investigative reporter (UNC Scandal): From photos, Kane appears to be a white male but is not found in the voter registration database, so it appears Kane is not registered to vote and does not participate in elections. How unpatriotic is that?!?!?! Please, Dan, say it ain't so! And, please don't tell us you vote with your pen. That's doesn't count in tabulation, only your frustration. (3-16-2025 FOLLOW-UP: Dan send a note saying: You would have been wise to contact me before posting what you thought was my nonvoting record. Here it is. I trust you will correct this. Done, here, and in the comments section.)
- Ned Barnett, Editorial Page Editor: Barnett, also from his photos and seeing him in person, appears to be a white male, but searching for his voter registration was tough. Based on his birthday—January 10, 1956 (He’ll join the 60 Club next year!)—the search produced an Edwin Bernard Barnett, Jr. of Raleigh, who is registered with the Democratic Party and has a voting record to back it up. Based on his Democratic leaning/anti-Republican editorial writing, the person found appears to be The N&O's Ned Barnett. Maybe Ned will confirm or deny. Oops, too many choices for him.
Researching voter registration is tricky yet interesting, especially when you find out your perception isn't reality. Click this link—North Carolina Board of Elections Public Voter Search—to do your own search! It's interesting that some newspaper writers, reporters, editors and publishers hide from their political preference while others display it in their writing. Why not just register with the party of choice? Might it show a bias? Will it keep advertisers away? Will it decrease circulation? Perception may not be reality, but reality is usually reflected in the subject and tone of their writings. For those in the political closet, maybe it's time to come out.
Dictionary.com word of the day
dysphemism (noun) [dis-fuh-miz-uh m]: the substitution of a harsh, disparaging, or unpleasant expression for a more nuetral one