Advocates of expanded early voting opportunities are considering legal action after a mixed bag of victories and losses at Thursday’s State Board of Elections meeting. During a 12-hour meeting Thursday to settle disputed early voting schedules in 33 counties, the state board restored Sunday early voting hours in five counties that had offered the option in 2012. It also added early voting hours in six counties where schedules had been cut, mandating more locations in Wake and Mecklenburg counties to prevent long lines. But in party line votes, the board’s Republican majority rejected efforts by Democrats to add Sunday voting in counties that hadn’t previously offered it and extend early voting hours in more counties. Early voting schedules have prompted bitter partisan disputes this year. With tight races expected for president, governor and U.S. Senate in North Carolina, strong turnout could be the key to victory.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could review the state’s early voting schedules to see if they comply with the court’s ruling throwing out the state’s voter ID law. The reduction of Sunday voting was a particular concern of the court in its ruling, which said the law’s “provisions target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
The plaintiffs in that lawsuit, which include the state NAACP and the League of Women Voters, have threatened further legal action if they find fault with the final early voting schedule.
“Our lawyers are doing an analysis of all of the decisions that were made yesterday,” NAACP president William Barber said Friday afternoon. “There were some victories yesterday, but we have to look at it in total. We are looking at all the options and whether or not we will have a need to re-engage in litigation.”