Saturday, November 3, 2012

This week, we bring you the election and more

You could easily guess one reason Wednesday’s Charlotte Observer will be special. We’ll have expansive coverage of local, state and national elections.

Here’s another: Wednesday marks the debut of ShopTalk, a new Observer feature focusing on the world of small business. More on that in a moment.

First, here’s some of what we have for you in the run-up to Election Day.

Did you vote early? You are among millions in the state who are reshaping the dynamics of elections. See today’s 1A story analyzing early-voting trends and their potential impact across the state.

Today’s Big Picture section offers context. With polls suggesting a virtual tie in the presidential race, we explain how the Electoral College could come into play. Also don’t miss a breakout of key congressional races to watch and seven burning questions that the election will answer.

If you have yet to vote, go to, where you can make your own sample ballot by simply typing in your address. You will also find background on the candidates and other helpful voter information.

Need encouragement just to vote? On Monday, we complete our profiles of people who are so enthusiastic that they are working to turn out people like you. Read what inspires them.

On Tuesday, Election Day, we’ll offer last-minute tips for voters still going to the polls. On, you’ll find frequent updates on turnout and other developments as they unfold.

Tuesday night, you can check the returns for yourself, minute-by-minute, as they accumulate on Dozens of Observer journalists will also report live on races from commissioner to president. They include the reporting team of Jim Morrill and Tim Funk, veteran political observers who began following these contests more than a year ago.

On Wednesday, all of our reporting, photos and graphics will fill 15 extra pages in a special election edition of our printed paper.

A unique feature of the Wednesday paper will be our expanded use of full-color graphics. We’ve planned 10 in all. At a glance, we hope to show you how every N.C. county voted for governor and president. In Mecklenburg, we will break down results for your precinct. Other graphics will detail congressional races and voter turnout.

Now, a preview of ShopTalk, our new Wednesday feature that will be devoted to advice and insights for small business.

Whether you run a small business, or are merely thinking about starting one, we think you will find this to be very useful reading.

Every week, we’ll ask small-business owners who are succeeding to share their experiences, as well as their secrets. This Wednesday, for example, learn how Olive Stewart convinced Whole Foods to stock its shelves with her homemade marinades and seasonings.

Other features include an Ask the Experts column, a calendar of networking opportunities and columnists with advice on everything from time management to having a spouse as business partner.

Nearly one of every five jobs in North Carolina is tied to small business. We are pleased to expand our own coverage of this sector through our underwriting program.

The underwriter, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, pays for the cost of these pages. The Observer’s newsroom independently produces the content and maintains sole editorial responsibility.

Our editor for ShopTalk is Celeste Smith, a member of our business news team who has 18 years of experience at the Observer. The section’s reporter is Caroline McMillan, a Charlotte native who covers the region’s small-business scene.

Smith and McMillan have already been in touch with many in our business community. They look forward to hearing from you.

Reach Rick Thames at or 704-358-5001.