You‘ve got an extra day to vote this year. Don‘t waste it.

Raleigh, N.C. — Early voting begins statewide Wednesday, but with no presidential, gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race on the ballot this year, it‘s unclear how many people will take advantage of that extra day of voting.

In past elections, early voting would stretch over a 17-day period, from a Thursday almost three weeks before the election to the Saturday before Election Day. But lawmakers shifted that schedule up one day this year, starting it on Wednesday, so early voting now runs 18 days.

Lawmakers initially planned to end early voting on the Friday for days before Election Day to give county elections officials more time to prepare for Election Day. But public outcry from people who noted the high turnout on that final Saturday of early voting .

Along with that schedule shift, during the early voting period. In previous elections, counties would usually have fewer early voting sites open for the first week or so and then open more in the final week. Hours also varied by polling site to meet demand.

Local election officials complained about the burden of staffing sites for 60 hours during the week, noting voting traffic didn‘t warrant keeping some open during the middle of the day, and some said they couldn‘t afford to open as many sites or to offer weekend hours because of the weekday staffing mandate. But lawmakers insisted that providing consistent days and times for early voting would encourage voting, not discourage it.

Long story short, early voting runs from Wednesday to Nov. 3, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Weekend hours vary by county, so check with your local board of elections.

Hurricanes Florence and Michael also have damaged polling sites in some southeastern North Carolina counties, so those residents need to check with local officials on where they can vote or might have to cast mail-in absentee ballots. The deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot is Oct. 30.

You don‘t need identification to vote, but if you want to register and vote during the one-stop process, you will need identification showing your address. And if you haven‘t registered yet, early voting is your only option, as you cannot cast a mail-in ballot or vote on Election Day because the registration deadline for doing so has already passed.

As far as what‘s on the ballot itself when you get to the polls, 2018 is a so-called “blue moon” election, with no presidential, gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race being contested. The only statewide races this year are for and three seats on the state Court of Appeals.

Six proposed amendments to the state constitution will be on the ballot and voted statewide:

  • A requirement that voters provide photo identification at the polls
  • A reduction in the maximum allowable income tax rate
  • An expansion of crime victims‘ rights
  • A guarantee of the right to fish and hunt in the state
  • Two proposals to shift the power to fill judicial vacancies and to appoint the members of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement from the governor to lawmakers.

All 13 , as are all 170 members of the General Assembly. The congressional and legislative voting district maps have been challenged in court repeatedly, so some state House and Senate districts have been redrawn since 2016. Meanwhile, although federal courts have ruled the congressional map to be illegally gerrymandered to favor Republicans, the existing map will be used in this election.

Democrats are hoping to break the Republican stranglehold on Congress and in the state legislature. U.S. House races will be closely watched nationwide, although few in North Carolina are seen as competitive.

Statewide, Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate, and Democrats hope to flip enough seats to gain more of a foothold in negotiating on pending legislation.

Further down the ballot are races for county commissioner, sheriff, district attorney, school board, and trial court judges. All seven commissioner seats are on the ballot this year in Wake County because of changes lawmakers pushed through several years ago.

Wake County also has three bond issues for voters to decide this fall: $548 million for school construction and renovation, $349 million for Wake Technical Community College growth and $120 million for more parks, greenways, recreational facilities and open space.

Holly Springs voters also have to decide a fourth bond proposal involving $40 million for local transportation improvements.

The constitutional amendments and the bond issues add a lot of verbiage to the ballot, but the 30 or so races on the Wake County ballot, depending on how many local judicial races you‘re voting on, are roughly the same number as in 2014 and are far fewer than in 2016, when all 10 Council of State races were on the ballot and people faced more local judicial races.

So, the ballot will only seem longer this year. But that‘s no reason not to vote.