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NC elections board debates Sunday voting

Posted August 7, 2012
Updated August 8, 2012

— Some Republicans appealed to the State Board of Elections on Tuesday to give poll workers a rest on the seventh day by prohibiting early voting on Sundays.

The move is at the heart of a political tug of war nationwide. Republicans generally view less early voting as an effort to reduce fraud and ease the workload on poll workers, while Democrats view early voting as increased access for people to cast ballots.

In the end, however, it comes down to winning elections for both sides.

In 2008, when President Barack Obama carried fellow Democrats on his coattails, 42 percent of North Carolina voters cast ballots before Election Day, according to state figures. Early voting made up 48 percent of all Democratic votes and 40 percent of Republican votes in the election. Forty percent of white voters went early, as did 52 percent of black voters.

"It's clearly a plan for the Democratic Party to try to maintain their power in North Carolina," Ralph Reagan, a member of the Cumberland County Board of Elections, told his state counterparts Tuesday.

The board also heard religious arguments against Sunday voting.

"It was so evident in our Constitution that Sunday was to be a day set aside from government pursuits," Pitt County voter Coral Joan Whichard said.

Early voting sticker Early voting creates partisan divide

Bob Hall, executive director of election watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, pointed to the 2010 election to show that Sunday voting can also help Republicans.

In the mid-term election, when the GOP took control of the General Assembly, 16 percent of Democrats and 18 percent of Republicans voted early. The percentages for white and black early turnout were almost even, and 15.5 percent of all votes cast came before Election Day.

"It doesn't need to be partisan because it's really about making voting more available to people," Hall said.

"I'm for helping Americans vote, and if Sunday is available for the majority of the people who work, then Sunday it is," Cumberland County Board of Elections member Sylvia Williams said.

County elections boards set their individual voting schedules, but whenever there is disagreement, as was the case in Cumberland and a few other counties, the State Board of Elections decides the issue. On Tuesday, the Democratic-leaning state board voted for more early voting in all disputed cases.

"I shouldn't impose my religious feeling on others, and we're not making anyone vote. We're just giving people the opportunity to vote," said Ronald Penny, a Democratic member of the state board.

"There's ample opportunity to vote, and they can certainly do it at a time that doesn't require the staff to work non-stop for 2½ weeks," said Chuck Winfree, a Republican member of the state board.

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  • SARCASTICLES Aug 8, 6:05 p.m.

    So, Ralph Reagan thinks that allowing voters who are democrats to actually vote is a left-wing conspiracy by the democrats to "maintain power". That mind set is so ridiculous it ain't even funny. I suppose that JUST allowing republicans to vote would be hunky-dory. "Wrapped in a flag, carrying a cross"...it's already here, folks.....good night, and good luck.

  • Ken D. Aug 8, 3:09 p.m.

    "So a rep DOJ investigation found 120 cases of potential fraud over 5 YEARS - NATIONWIDE. Is the trouble for hundreds of thousands of people worth 120 cases of potential fraud?"

    And of these 120 cases of POTENTIAL fraud, 86 were found to have been ACTUAL fraud. Assuming that 2/3 of these fraudulent votes were cast in favor of Democrats, and only 1/3 for Republicans, then on average voter fraud has cost the Republicans a whopping 6 votes a year nationwide.

    How about we just let the Republicans cast an extra six votes a year for the candidate(s) of their choice, and save all the money we're spending debating this?

  • Crabbit Cratur Aug 8, 2:57 p.m.

    "State,county and city governments are closed on Sunday and the Election office is a local government function so I feel it should be out of business on Sunday also."

    Not all Gov functions are off on Sundays....the Police, Fire, roads etc are all available if required.

    " AS for voter ID, it is a hollow argument that having ID is a hardship on anyone."

    It doesn't have to be a hardship....fact is that one does not have to have an ID in this country so one cannot insist on it for voting.

    " The people most argue that it would affect art the old and the poor. Both groups are most likley getting retirement or Gobernment entitlements and ID is required for both, so where is the hardship?"

    Remembering where it is and then remembering to bring it on voting day may well be a hardship for many and if there is no plausible reason to require it then why do so?

  • Come On_Seriously Aug 8, 2:49 p.m.

    affirmative- I'm saying that the GOP is fraudulently claiming that there is rampant fraud. It certainly is not 'fair' to keep some 1000 people from voting per alleged case of fraud.

    "Now...how many voters have to be disenfranchised due to a "lack of access" (that is the only day they have any time available to vote is Sundays) before a solution should be implement?"

    Your question makes little sense- No one should be disenfranchised due to lack of access. You seem to be making the point that additional voting times are good. I agree.

    Please. Asking me why I haven't helped someone without to get a ID is like asking you why you're not out there policing the polling places for fraud. I don't claim to know everyone's business, nor is it my place -unlike a lot of conservative lawmakers who claim to be out of everyone's business, yet try to keep a thumb on everything.

  • Crabbit Cratur Aug 8, 2:48 p.m.

    "to the people that talk about all the people getting government benefits...you obviously don't pay attention in line at the grocery store...or you don't even do you own shopping...social security checks, government benefits are electronic transactions...there isn't very much check cashing these days...they get a deposit onto a debit card...oblivious none of the people complaining about it have had to go on unemployment...so they don't know..."

    Or regard it as that persons right and something that one day they might need too....not everyone lacks empathy or imagination.

  • Crabbit Cratur Aug 8, 2:45 p.m.

    "So what's your benchmark for voter fraud cases before a solution should be implemented? 1,000? 10,000? 1,000,000? Does more than one state have to be involved? If so how many states?"

    Lets start with a higher rate per year than the odds of being struck by lightning.....sound reasonable?

    "Now...how many voters have to be disenfranchised due to a "lack of access" (that is the only day they have any time available to vote is Sundays) before a solution should be implement? 1? 100? 1,000? ...you get my drift."

    In a country of 300 Million of whom lets say 100 Million can vote? And hindrance at all would have to be tiny to affect as few as 100,000, but if you say 120 cases over 5 years is too much voter fraud then the same amount of voters not getting to vote would a fair measure.

    "Oh and can you honestly say you know someone who has not one piece of government issued ID..."

    Can you honestly say you know of a single person who commits voter fraud? and if so why did you not call 911?

  • affirmativediversity Aug 8, 2:32 p.m.

    So a rep DOJ investigation found 120 cases of potential fraud over 5 YEARS - NATIONWIDE. Is the trouble for hundreds of thousands of people worth 120 cases of potential fraud? per Flow Easy

    -----------------

    So what's your benchmark for voter fraud cases before a solution should be implemented? 1,000? 10,000? 1,000,000? Does more than one state have to be involved? If so how many states?

    Now...how many voters have to be disenfranchised due to a "lack of access" (that is the only day they have any time available to vote is Sundays) before a solution should be implement? 1? 100? 1,000? ...you get my drift.

    Oh and can you honestly say you know someone who has not one piece of government issued ID...and if so, why haven't you helped them get some?

  • Come On_Seriously Aug 8, 2:21 p.m.

    Johnny, you are correct. I was simply making the point that an ID would not keep the few alleged instances of fraud from occurring. If you'd like to split hairs, people are not lining up with IDs at all.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Aug 8, 2:02 p.m.

    "People aren't lining up at polls with fake IDs- the're mailing them if at all." - Flow Easy

    The only ID required is you verbally stating your name and address. Nothing else. At this time, fake IDs are meaningless.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Aug 8, 2:00 p.m.

    This all pales into insignifance compared to the fact that, on average since 1960, voter turnout at federal elections is less than 50%. That's terrible. I suspect that the silent majority simply aren't polarized and have no viable candidate.

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