News and opinions related to local elections.

Board of Elections Public Input Meeting for Early Voting

I attended the last two Orange County Board of Elections public meetings as a resident who cares about easy access to voting for all citizens. Tuesday’s meeting was a complete sham.  While the meeting’s purpose was advertised on the Board’s web site as “[t]o receive public input on the 2014 November One-Stop voting hours and location,” the Board’s actions said otherwise.

Citizens eager to provide input filled the room to overflowing, and yet Chairwoman Knight opened the meeting by directing each “side” (her word) to organize (how?) to speak for 15 minutes in support or opposition to adding Sunday early voting hours.  By allocating 15 minutes to each “side,” she pre-determined that the board would hear equal opposition and support, and have no opportunity to understand the balance of citizen opinion in the room. This pre-determined allocation led, for example, to the board hearing a very long statement by a representative of the Republican Party but not allowing an African-American supporter of Sunday voting to speak at all, despite his repeated attempts to do so.

Recap of Orange County Board of Elections Meeting

This morning I attended the Orange County Board of Elections meeting where they determined the early voting plan for the Fall 2014 elections. I have been attending BOE meetings in Orange County for several years, and this was by far the largest turnout (over 50 people by my count) I have ever seen.

This meeting was called to consider adjusting the fall early voting plan to include voting hours on Sunday. At the board's meeting a week ago, some citizens representing Jews for Justice requested expansion to Sunday to provide a non-weekday voting option that didn't fall on the Jewish holy day, Saturday. The meeting opened with the Chair asking the audience to try to keep their comments brief. The board intended to limit public comment to 30 minutes, with each side receiving 15 minutes for their speakers to speak. I spoke in support of extending voting hours to Sunday, as did Hillsborough Commissioner Jenn Weaver and Carrboro Board of Aldermen Member Randee Haven- O'Donnell. Several other citizens spoke in support, including representatives from Jews for Justice, the League of Women Voters, and the Orange County Democratic Party.

Expand Voting Access on Weekends

Tomorrow the Orange County Board of Elections will adopt a plan for early voting for the fall election. The Board will consider both the locations and hours for early voting. When it comes to locations, the board should keep the same voting locations used during the spring primary to maintain consistency. After considering a number of options, the plan adopted for the primary included five early voting sites, including a location in rural Orange County at Master’s Garden Preschool, and a location adjacent to UNC’s campus at North Carolina Hillel. I’ve been a strong advocate for securing a site that is accessible to the faculty, staff, and students who attend UNC, and while NC Hillel might not be the perfect site, it is accessible to pedestrians from UNC and we should maintain stability from the primary.

Election Map 2014: Orange County Sheriff Runoff

Charles Blackwood and David Caldwell faced off in a second Democratic primary election Tuesday to determine who will be Orange County's first new sheriff in more than 30 years.

The map below shows the precinct-level results of this runoff election. The results are shown as the ratio of votes for Blackwood to votes for Caldwell. (As usual, these preliminary precinct-level results are inaccurate to the extent that early votes may have differed from votes cast on election day. See the raw numbers in this Google spreadsheet. Thanks to Damon Seils for providing the map.)

A total of 8413 Orange County residents voted out of a possible 91,173. So, only 9.23% of voters participated in choosing our next sheriff.

Sign the Petition to Expand Early Voting

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.



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