Early Voting is very popular in North Carolina and the evidence shows it doesn’t inherently favor Democrats or Republicans (see reports here and here). But in the current hyper-partisan environment, disputes over the location and hours of Early Voting sites are too often turning into a power struggle instead of a rational discussion about sensible options. Sunday voting is becoming more controversial in this context, but the data show that Sunday afternoons are the most intensive hours of voting in nearly every county that has offered this option. People who work fixed schedules or who have limited access to transportation need opportunities to vote on weekends and evenings, and we need to offer them if we want North Carolina to climb out of its typical ranking among the bottom 15 states for voter turnout (2008 was the exception, thanks to Early Voting and Same-Day Registration). Most counties are finalizing their Early Voting plans this week or have already set the schedule. When the Democratic and Republican members of the local board of elections can’t agree, alternative plans are reviewed by the State Board of Elections, which has historically favored providing voters more opportunities. Will that perspective change if Republicans gain the majority of seats on the State Board by virtue of winning the governorship?
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