Shorter early voting period could bring longer lines for NC primary

Posted April 4, 2014

— Anyone planning to cast an early ballot in North Carolina's upcoming primary needs to schedule carefully.

As part of a sweeping elections law that lawmakers passed last year, early voting has been shortened from 17 to 10 days. For the May 6 primary, early voting runs from April 24 through May 3.

Republican lawmakers who backed the provision say there's still plenty of time for everyone who wants to vote to cast their ballots, but critics say the move is just an attempt to make it harder to vote.

"There are a lot of ups and downs, and the thought was that we don't really need quite as many days," said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, one of the main sponsors of the elections law.

In the 2012 general election, 57 percent of the votes cast in North Carolina were on early ballots, including 20 percent cast during the first week of the early voting period that no longer will be provided.

To soften the cut, lawmakers said counties would have to provide the same number of hours of early voting in 10 days that they used to offer in 17 either by staying open longer or opening more early voting sites.

"By reducing the number of days but keeping the same number of hours, we might actually get more one-stop voting sites," Lewis said.

Extra sites cost extra money to operate, however, and some counties can't afford it. Thirty-eight of North Carolina's 100 counties – mostly rural, mostly poor – were granted waivers to offer fewer early voting hours for the primary.

Voter turnout in primaries is always lighter than in general elections, especially in mid-term elections such as this year. But Anita Earls, a lawyer for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which is challenging the elections law in court, warned that some early voters could still find long lines later this month because of the shorter early voting period.

"We have alleged that it was intentionally designed to discourage turnout by African-American voters in this state because the data show that they disproportionately made use of early voting," Earls said.

Republicans strongly deny any discriminatory motives and defend the voting changes as fair to all voters.


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  • WRAL_USER Apr 8, 2014

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    Yea, whats wrong with forcing IDs at the polls (other then it being an affront to our US constitution and having absolutely no basis in fact for its creation and being illegal in NC to do so... ) No issues at all. GOP lies through and through...

  • WRAL_USER Apr 8, 2014

    As long as the GOP makes it as hard as possible for your vote to count... The NCGOP, making our rights disappear because they can fool people just long enough to be elected...

  • Olenc Native Apr 8, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    It's easy. Only white male landowners were allowed to vote. Cuts out 80% of the population.

  • Mike Morgan Apr 8, 2014
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    How did we manage to do it all those years in just 1 day. Amazing ...

  • Billy Smith Apr 8, 2014
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    This means zombie Democrats must re-line themselves.

  • Sam Nada Apr 7, 2014
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    "The voter IDs are what reduce the opportunity for voter fraud. Do try to keep up."

    What's the article about? Is voter ID mentioned even once? What was my comment about? Do try to pay attention.

  • rastubar Apr 7, 2014

    I think the 10 days will be enough time to vote if you really make the effort. Plan ahead and don't make excuses for laziness. Take responsibility.

  • PanthersFan45 Apr 7, 2014

    This probably hurts Republicans more than Democrats since the big race this year will be for US Senate. It's all about who will oppose Hagen. Most of the new voters have also been trending UNA and they are free to vote in either primary (not both) so logic tells me it is likely going to be those who are NOT democrats who will be affected the most in May.

  • Bill Brasky Apr 7, 2014

    NC was one of the worst in the nation for voter turnout prior to early voting being established. Since voter turnout we are in the top ten. Seems we should be pushing for higher voter turnout, not trying to reduce voter turnout.

    Also, according to the article, had some chose to read it.. 38 counties were granted waivers not to increase their early voting hours.

  • Jeff Burns Apr 7, 2014
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    I remember when early voting went on the books (and it was pretty recently) hearing that "the problem will be in how difficult it will be to make even common-sense changes ... because one party or the other will see a disadvantage." I dismissed such as just hogwash ... wow, was I wrong - they can't even lessen the number of days, but increase the hours / locations.