Local Politics

Political parties protest malls' campaining ban

Posted October 18, 2008
Updated October 19, 2008

— Amid record early voting in North Carolina, a protest against electioneering rules drew Republicans and Democrats together at polling places at two Wake County malls Saturday.

The parties held joint gatherings at Triangle Town Center in Raleigh and Cary Towne Center to protest a company ban on campaigning anywhere on mall property.

"The two malls are the only ones with no electioneering," Doris Weaver, with the Wake County Democratic Party, said.

The malls, owned by the same company, do not allow candidates or anyone else to campaign on the grounds, including parking lots. Mall rules do not allow people to pass out pamphlets without prior permission.

State law permits campaigning at least 50 feet beyond voting sites.

Wake County Board of Election officials said that they agreed in July to allow the malls an exception to that rule.

Members of both parties said the malls' ban is not fair – and comes at a particularly bad time.

“I think both Democrats and Republicans agree that this is the most important election of a generation – maybe ever,” David Robinson, chairman of the Wake County Republican Party, said.

“I’ve been a candidate and I’ve worked for the Democratic Party for 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever been blocked for advocating my candidate at the polls,” Linda Gunter said.

Statewide, 214,000 voters braved hours-long lines to cast their ballots on the first two days of early voting.

So far, the numbers have clearly favored Democrats. Some 62 percent of voters who have cast a ballot in early voting are registered with the party. Only 22 percent are registered Republicans.

By comparison, about 46 percent of all registered voters in the state are declared Democrats, while 32 percent are with the GOP.

Amy Black, 40, of Kernersville, said she is not concerned by the low early turnout of registered Republicans like herself. She plans to early vote next week to beat the lines.

"It's only been two days," she said, after attending a rally for Republican presidential nominee John McCain in Concord.

The state GOP says that many Democrats and independents in North Carolina – where President Bush won by 12 points four years ago – might trend to McCain. Voters in the state generally prefer Democrats for state offices and Republicans to hold national seats.

Athough Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama pushed voters to the polls on opening day, the Republicans are planning a number of political events in the upcoming week to emphasize the voting option. They have also invested in mail-in absentee balloting.

Elections officials and campaign observers expect that one-third of North Carolina voters could go to the polls before Election Day.

 

In the Triangle, one-stop voting sites at the malls, Pullen Arts Center and the Chavis Community Center were scheduled to be closed Monday through Wednesday, but officials said Saturday they will be open and remain so until early voting ends on Nov. 1, Wake County Board of Elections officials said.

Monday through Wednesday, the locations will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Additional early voting locations in Wake County will open on Thursday.

8 Comments

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  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Oct 20, 7:48 p.m.

    "Members of both parties said the malls' ban is not fair – and comes at a particularly bad time."

    WRONG! I am for once glad that there is no campaigning by anyone at the polls. I have been through polling places in the past where I want to take a Nerf baseball bat and pound these annoying and incredulous campaigners while I am lined up to vote. I have been yelled at, practically spit at (because they are in your face), and these campaigners in general try to be intimidating to vote for their candidates.

    I went early voting at one of the malls over the weekend. My family and I had a very pleasant time in line and voted. Total time in line and voting was less than 30 minutes. We even went shopping :-)

  • Dr. Dataclerk Oct 20, 10:05 a.m.

    Obama will be your next president.

  • anitathebaptist Oct 20, 9:49 a.m.

    Again, by the time we arrive at the polls , we should know who we want to vote for . This is our moment to have our say . We've listen to ALL those negative ads until we're "sick" of the whole affair -- but , it is our American right to vote. then , these workers are upset they can't hand us one more pamphlet to be thrown in the trash !! "get real!" Why aren't you out there driving people to vote that can't- otherwise ?

  • NeverSurrender Oct 20, 9:38 a.m.

    "Although people do need to be informed in large letters that your straight party vote does not include the president."

    ---

    Or better yet, eliminate the straight party voting entirely and force the voter to actually affirmatively choose a candidate for each contest.

    I've always opposed the straight ticket because it rather flies in the face of what voting is supposed to be about...making an informed choice as to who is the most qualified person who can do the best job whilst in office. If the decision is simply reduced to who has an R or a D behind their name, then the best that you can hope for is that some party apparatchik has by some miracle stumbled upon the most appropriate person for the job.

    If they still want to vote a straight party ticket, more power to them...but we shouldn't be forced to make it easy for them to put their brains on autopilot in the process.

    Sadly, it'll never be. The political parties are perfectly keen on allowing voters to give the party control.

  • foetine Oct 20, 9:20 a.m.

    surrogates should be seen and not heard.

    Although people do need to be informed in large letters that your straight party vote does not include the president.

  • ncguy71 Oct 20, 9:19 a.m.

    Most people have made up their minds by the time they are going to vote.

    I wish they would not let anyone campaign near any voting places. They are so annoying!!

  • NeverSurrender Oct 20, 8:53 a.m.

    Given the behaviour of candidates and their surrogates that I've experienced at polling places, I'd be perfectly fine with them not being allowed anywhere near the precinct when voting is occurring.

    The short distance from the parking lot to the voting booths is like running the proverbial gauntlet. There have been times that I've felt like I was being assaulted with these people hanging all over me or yelling into my ear that I should support their candidate. There have been some that have been so offensive and in my face that I've strongly considered giving them a personal demonstration of my martial arts skills.

    The few times I've actually pointed out to the candidates how hideous their surrogates were behaving, my concerns were essentially blown off.

    I can only imagine how much more hideous it must be in minority precincts where voter intimidation/caging is the norm rather than the exception.

    They've had their say...they ought to let us have ours in peace.

  • Iworkforaliving Oct 20, 7:40 a.m.

    Sorry, but it's private property. You should be happy their letting you vote there.