A New York Times editorial today touches on an issue we've been covering at Facing South over the last few weeks: the undervote problem in North Carolina.

As we reported, North Carolina has one of the highest rates of undervotes -- ballots that are cast, but don't register a vote for president -- in the country. In 2000, more than 75,000 ballots were cast that didn't include a choice for president; in 2004, it was more than 92,000.

The primary culprit: North Carolina's confusing ballots, in which a straight-ticket vote doesn't include the presidential race. As the Times editorial notes, the confusing ballots are especially hard on the new voters that are registering in record numbers this year:
Poor ballot design is a burden on all voters. Less-educated voters and the newly enrolled are even more likely to be confused and to end up not casting a vote for president.
How big of a difference could this make? Assuming that about 4.3 million North Carolinians will vote this year and using 538.com's latest projections of the gap between McCain and Obama, the presidential race could be decided in NC by as few as 55,900 votes.

That's 36,000 less than the 92,000 undervotes in the state in 2004.

In terms of policy, the Times is right that nothing can be done until after election day. But in the meantime, dozens of groups like Democracy North Carolina -- as well as state and local election officials -- are working hard to educate voters and make sure undervotes don't tip the election.

NC Verified Voting has more on the undervote issue.