Politics & Government

NC elections director to counties: Consider turnout in setting early voting schedules

JDHud@charlotteobserver.com

With no more mandatory hours of early voting, North Carolina state elections director Kim Strach has urged county elections boards to “be mindful” of expected high turnout in setting this fall’s early voting schedules.

Her appeal was the result of a federal appeals court ruling that overturned North Carolina’s voter ID law. In throwing out the ID requirement, the court also removed a requirement that set a floor for the number of early voting hours.

While adding a week to the 10-day early voting period, it dropped a requirement to open early polling sites this year for the same number of hours as in the last presidential election.

Now local boards can determine how many hours early voting is available.

Some Democrats worry that Republican-led county boards will actually reduce the hours, perhaps by dropping the number of early voting sites.

“We strongly encourage county boards of elections to be mindful of expected turnout and historical use of one-stop early voting in their respective counties,” Strach said in a memo Thursday. “Statewide historical data indicates that roughly 56 percent of all voters this election will use … early voting, which will reduce lengthy lines on Election Day.”

The figure in Mecklenburg County was even higher – 62 percent, according to Elections Director Michael Dickerson.

He said Friday he’s going to recommend 2,742 hours of early voting at 22 sites, just like in 2012.

“It’s a common-sense kind of deal,” Dickerson said. “My job is to make elections as smooth as possible for the voters of the county.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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