The North Carolina Senate will soon decide how early “early voting” can be. The state House has passed its version of a bill to reduce the amount of time polling sites can be open before elections by one week. Republican backers of the idea suggest it will save county governments money, but the people who administer the elections say it would actually cost more.
Bev Cunningham, director of the Henderson County Board of Elections in Hendersonville, says her staff would be much busier for a shorter time period.
”I think if this passed, what we would have to see in Henderson County is probably more early voting sites to handle the number of voters that are accustomed to voting this way,” she said. “They like being able to choose around their work schedule, or just schedule in general, to come vote.”
The House vote was pretty much along party lines. Those who oppose shortening the early voting times are worried that it’s part of a larger effort – including ending same-day registration, banning Sunday voting and mandating state-issued voter ID cards – that would make voting more difficult for some people.
More than 60 percent of the votes in the last presidential election were early votes in Guilford County, according to Board of Elections Director George Gilbert. He doesn’t see the need to change a system that already has some flexibility built in and voters seem to like.