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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

Early voting begins this week in the North Carolina primaries

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Early voting kicks off this week in the North Carolina primaries. Starting Thursday, April 28, voters can begin casting early ballots at a variety of early voting locations.

This will be the first primary under North Carolina's new voting districts for Congress and the General Assembly. The winners of each party's primaries will go on to the general election in November.

The primaries will carry extra weight in districts that lean heavily toward one party or the other. Michael Bitzer, professor of political science at Catawba College, said that's especially true in about 20% of General Assembly districts where no candidate from the opposing party has filed to run.

"For a candidate of the opposing party, it really doesn't make sense, unfortunately, to contest, when so many voters are already loyal to that party that's determinative of winning," Bitzer said.

In those districts, the primary winner is all but guaranteed to become the district's representative.

Meanwhile, one of the more competitive statewide primary races will be for the Republican nomination in the race for the U.S. Senate. Rep. Ted Budd is running for the nomination, along with former Gov.Pat McCrory, former congressional candidate Mark Walker and army combat veteran Marjorie Eastman. The winner will likely face Democrat Cheri Beasley in the general election.

WFAE has produced a voter guide that has a comprehensive list of all the positions on the ballot, plus help on how to register to vote and instructions on how to vote absentee or in-person.

Residents can vote early, in person, from April 28-May 14 at any early voting site in a resident's county. Same-day voter registration is also available at most early voting sites.

The state has an online tool where people can search for early voting sites in their home county. Residents can vote at any early voting site in their county. Just check with the county's local board of elections for hours.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal