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GOP seeks to curb early voting

Posted March 28, 2013
Updated March 29, 2013

— Two bills filed by Republican lawmakers seek to cut back early voting and eliminate same-day registration in North Carolina.

Senate Bill 428, filed by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, would cut the early voting period from two weeks to one and would eliminate same-day voter registration. 

House Bill 451, filed by Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, goes even further. In addition to cutting early voting and same-day registration, it would also outlaw early voting on Sunday and straight-ticket voting.

"I just think that we will put some balance into the election process," Starnes said.

Democrats say such bills are intended to make it harder to vote and will disproportionately affect low-income, working and minority voters – groups that traditionally favor Democrats.

The Sunday ban, in particular, would affect popular "Souls to the Polls" voting drives at African-American churches.

"I think Sundays just should be – some things you just shouldn't do on Sundays, so I am just opposed to voting on Sunday," Starnes said.

Both parties have benefited from early voting in North Carolina, which has become increasingly popular. More than 2.5 million voters, or about 56 percent of those who voted statewide, used one-stop sites in the 2012 general election.

Straight-ticket voting is also a popular option for voters in both parties. In 2012, 1.4 million Democrats and 1.1 million Republicans in North Carolina voted a straight-party ticket. 

Early voting Bill sponsors say voting proposals aren't partisan

Tillman said his bill isn't meant to be partisan, noting all voters would still have equal access to the polls. Meanwhile, he said, keeping early voting sites open for two weeks costs money that could be better spent elsewhere.

"We're paying people for two weeks to run those election centers," he said. "Let's cut it to one week, and we can do the same thing. It's not to disenfranchise anybody."

GOP lawmakers opted last year not to spend $664,000 required to draw down $4.7 million in federal Help America Vote Act funds, which would have helped provide equipment and training to speed the early voting process.

Florida gained national attention for eight-hour lines and voting problems in the 2012 election after Republican lawmakers there enacted similar legislation to limit early voting. 

Republican Gov. Rick Scott supported Florida's legislation when he signed it in 2011, but after last fall's debacle, he's now proposing to roll back the restrictions and restore early voting hours.

House Minority leader Larry Hall said North Carolina legislators should make it easier to vote, not harder.

"They should let all North Carolinians have their constitutional right to vote, unfettered, and stop trying to take it away," said Hall, D-Durham. "Hopefully, the public's going to catch on and understand that people are trying to keep them from voting, and we're going to continue to push the idea with the public that they should be able to vote and elect their leaders."

259 Comments

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  • kenloe3981 Mar 31, 7:40 a.m.

    Yea take a look at the picture....folks that dont work can vote all day long!!

  • abdannormal Mar 29, 12:25 p.m.

    I think the Republicans are just Constitutional conservatives. They just want to go back to how voting was back in the good old days. Single day of voting. Wealthy, white men only. What is wrong with that?

  • The Contractor Mar 29, 11:25 a.m.

    "It's not to disenfranchise anybody." I love how the GOP uses common sense phrases to prove a point but if you look at their national agenda, they've even admitted to limiting early voting and pushing through voter id laws just to limit the voting in their favor. and all because of non-existent fraud running rampant and scare tactics and talking points the ignorant continue to espouse. and just because you have an ID doesn't mean everyone does. thats like stating you have a car so everyone must have a car. do all homeless have id's? does everyone who works, has children able to go vote on one day only? can you imagine the lines you would have to wait in to vote on one single day? this is just another bs legislative aciton that fixes nothing and causes other issues.

  • Dukefan1 Mar 29, 11:15 a.m.

    "The voting I don't like is the out of state college kids coming here and voting in local elections and then returning to their home state after finishing college. We get stuck with their agenda."

    Well, my goodness. Let's prohibit colleges from accepting out of state students?

  • Dukefan1 Mar 29, 11:12 a.m.

    "This will prevent the annual vote early and often and bring your dead friends names with you program that the Dems pull all the time."

    You guys are paranoid.....

  • Dukefan1 Mar 29, 11:07 a.m.

    "state unemployment is down a tick. Looks like the GOP is doing wonderful things." GOP has done nothing for jobs....only trying to run our social lives. Jobs are improving because the stock market is improving and companies feel more confident about hiring.

  • Dukefan1 Mar 29, 11:04 a.m.

    I have to laugh...what does being LAZY have to do with voting?

  • Dukefan1 Mar 29, 11:03 a.m.

    "What we are eliminating is the expense of polling for a longer period of time." No, what you are eliminating is my having the time off work to go vote and not having to stand in line for hours. Some people do have a life, family, etc and cannot afford to spend all day in line.

  • Dukefan1 Mar 29, 11:01 a.m.

    Voting is a right! Do I tell you how many days you can shoot your gun? All I hear lately is "gov't is trying to take away my 2nd Amendment rights"....well, are you trying to take away my right to vote? Or can I only vote with the conditions you think are the right ones?

  • Navigate life Mar 29, 11:00 a.m.

    Missouri has a good ID system in place for voting that requires either of several forms of identification. It would be fair to at least look into it instead of forcing this blanket policy of have it or else. Better yet, put it to a "vote".

    I disagree with cutting early voting and same day registration. This is America and the people should be appropriately accommodated. We work hard and play harder and if I want to vote early so I can play later then its my God given American right. Stay out of my way.

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