An “overall victory” is what voting rights advocates are calling North Carolina counties’ new early voting plans. They were finalized last week following the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s July ruling, which a divided U.S. Supreme Court let stand, striking down the battleground state’s so-called “monster” election law that among other things slashed a week from the 17-day early voting period. In a 12-hour meeting on Sept. 8, the N.C. State Board of Elections resolved contested early voting plans from 33 of the state’s 100 county election boards, all of which are controlled by Republicans. (Under North Carolina law, the governor’s party holds two of every county election boards’ three seats.) Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party, had urged county board members to limit early voting and keep polling sites closed on Sundays — what he called “party line changes.”
But in 26 bipartisan votes, the three Republicans and two Democrats on the state elections board chose plans that added more hours and/or voting sites. In only seven party-line votes did they choose the most restrictive early-voting option. Among the disappointments for voting rights advocates were the loss of popular Sunday voting options in Gaston, New Hanover and Union counties.
“Overall, it was a positive day for North Carolina voters, thanks in large part to the groundswell of citizen activists who for months have championed the public’s interests above partisan rhetoric,” said Democracy North Carolina Executive Director Bob Hall.
In recent decades, 32 states have passed laws allowing citizens to vote in person before Election Day, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. But starting in 2011, GOP-controlled states including North Carolina began restricting early voting as part of a broader effort to limit the franchise.
Full Article: Why early voting matters | Facing South.