This year will also mark the first partisan state Supreme Court election since 1996. North Carolina previously used a nonpartisan election to choose judges, but a vote in March 2017 restored partisan superior court elections in the state.
Two Republicans, Barbara Jackson and Chris Anglin, and one Democrat, Anita Earls, are running for one seat on the court.
Maggie Horzempa, chairperson of the UNC College Republicans, said in an email she views the state Supreme Court, state legislative and congressional elections as key races that have the potential to influence voters in the 2020 election, as well.
"Support for the strong economy and tax cuts are some of the issues driving this election," Horzempa said. "It is important that we continue to push for more jobs for American citizens, while also allowing workers to keep more of their paychecks via tax cuts."
Each incumbent U.S. House Representative from North Carolina is up for re-election this year. For the 13 districts, there are currently three Democratic incumbents and 10 Republican incumbents.
Polls by the conservative, Raleigh-based Civitas Institute showed varying levels of support for candidates across the state. In the 13th district, Republican incumbent Ted Budd leads Democrat Kathy Manning by five points, according to a July poll. But a different July poll shows Democrat Dan McCready leading Republican Mark Harris by seven points.
In addition to elections for state and national office, voters in North Carolina will vote on six constitutional amendments on the ballot this year. The proposed amendments include adding a constitutional right to hunt and fish in North Carolina, expanding the rights of crime victims, making the legislature responsible for appointments to state commissions, creating a process for filling midterm judicial vacancies, lowering the income tax cap and requiring voter identification.
The voter identification amendment has been a particularly divisive issue, with only Republicans voting for and only Democrats voting against putting the amendment on the ballot. A previous voter identification law, passed in 2013, was struck down by a federal appeals court.
Horzempa said college-aged voters should remember that voting is never a waste of time and take time to vote in upcoming elections.
"If anything, your vote in state and local elections may matter more," she said. "Take the time to research candidates and discuss ideas, even with those you don't necessarily agree with."
Hughes said college students should be mindful of the impact this election will have beyond the end of this year.
“When we’re talking about college affordability, when we’re talking about equal rights, when we’re talking about respect for the First Amendment, respect for equal rights, respect for democracy — all those things are on the ballot this year,” he said. “We’re the ones that will live with whatever decisions are being made for decades to come or for the rest of our lives.”