This fall there are four early voting sites with a total of 236 site hours, see http://www.orangecountync.gov/2015_November_3_One_stop_Voting_Sites.pdf. County board of elections have pretty complete discretion on municipal early voting subject to the $$$ the towns appropriate to pay for it.
The 2013 legislation that cut early voting from 17 to 10 days requires preservation of the same number of site hours that were in the 2010 and 2012 primaries and elections as a floor. The statutory floors for 2016 are:
March presidential primary 426 hours
May primary if it is not moved to March 226 hours (roughly same schedule as 2015 municipal)
November General election 528 hours
This means that for the March presidential primary there may need to be 7 sites instead of the 4 this fall and even at 7 there may need to be more hours per day, more hours on Saturdays, and perhaps even a Sunday
For the 2016 general election it will likely be 9 sites to handle the 528 hours over 10 days
Yesterday, I attended the Board of Elections meeting where they were to approve the early vote schedule for the fall. Though I knew there could be some others in attendance regarding an early vote site on campus (I was part of the informal committee looking for sites and suggested Carolina Hillel as a possibility, which was eventually approved). There were at least a dozen people in attendance speaking, as I did, in support of expanded hours on Saturday and adding Sunday as a voting day. While Orange County exceeded the number of hours required by law in the primary, I believe we should expand hours even more. Because of the response, the Board is delaying their decision next week.
On Tuesday, July 22 at 11:15am, members of the Orange County Board of Elections will consider our county's early vote plan. They were originally slated to approve the plan at yesterday's meeting, but due to the number of people present in support of expanded opportunities opted to postpone their decision.
Today, the State Board of Elections will be deciding whether or not to add another site in Orange County for early voting. Jamie Cox and I issued letters in support of an additional early vote site for Orange County on the UNC campus. Both of us stressed that this is what is better for the county, not for a particular party. However, Chair Kathy Knight struck a decidely partisan tone in her response.
But this isn't about partisanship or politics, it's about fairness, because I don't stand for or support partisanship for political gain. I have previously proposed and supported election sites that members of my own party disagreed with because they believed it could benefit the GOP, but I thought those sites were viable and fair for all of Orange County. What better way to show the legislature that folks of all political persuasions oppose their elections overhaul? What better way to show that local government still works?
Below are the two letters Jamie and I submitted to the State Board, along with BOE Chair Kathy Knight's letter.
OCDP Chair Matt Hughes' Letter
BOE Member Jamie Cox's Letter
BOE Chair Kathy Knight's Letter
The Orange County Board of Elections met today to discuss early voting sites for the 2014 elections and beyond.
At the heart of the discussion today was what an on-campus voting site at UNC could be. In other parts of the state, such as Watauga and Pasquotank counties, students have seen their voting rights undermined through the loss of on-campus voting sites and challenges to student residency. While no such issues have emerged yet in Orange County, there has been some speculation that the Republican-majority Orange County Board of Elections might not maintain an on-campus voting site for UNC students for upcoming elections.
However, that speculation seems to have been brought to an end today, when Board Chair Kathy Knight said emphatically, "This board is not Watauga [County]." As the live tweets from today's meeting (below) show, it appears the Board of Elections is committed to having an early voting site on campus. The Board did not make any final decisions on voting sites today, but finalists for the on-campus site appear to include Cobb Residence Hall, Hillel, and the Stone Center.
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