Editorial: Don't Play Politics With Early Voting
As the coordinated campaign to cut early voting across the state continues to be orchestrated by the NC GOP, another newspaper has spoken out against the proposed cuts, which include eliminating all Sunday voting, cutting evening and weekend hours, as well as the removal of polling sites historically used by young or minority populations.
We wondered, about a week ago, why Cumberland County Board of Elections member Kevin Hight proposed canceling early voting at the Smith Recreation Center, near the Fayetteville State University campus. He also argued that the local board should drop Sunday voting.
Hight is a Republican, but a moderate not generally given to political extremes, and this proposal was definitely extreme. It clearly targeted African-American voters, since the Smith center is in the middle of a predominantly black neighborhood, and Sunday voting is extremely popular with many black churches, which organize "souls to the polls" trips after Sunday services.
A few days later, we learned the move was orchestrated by state GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, in emails he sent to Republican elections-board members. Because we have a Republican governor, each of the state's 100 boards of elections has a 2-1 GOP majority, which makes it easy for him to order up these political shenanigans.
And it is political at its core, not necessarily intended to be racist. The Republicans want to diminish Democratic votes in November, and African-Americans are overwhelmingly Democrat. They, like many other Democrats, are more likely than Republicans to use early voting.
But this is a lousy time to be playing politics with North Carolinians' right to vote. It's already too confusing, given a recent federal court decision that tossed out this state's voting-reform law, which requires voter ID and imposes limits on other practices, like early voting and same-day registration. The state has appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could stay the lower court's ruling until after the election. At this point, it's not clear when early voting will begin and how long it will last. Additional meddling by local boards of elections will only add to the chaos.