It’s only August, but this is still a busy time when it comes to North Carolina elections. In accordance with state law, county boards of elections across the state are meeting today to appoint precinct judges for the upcoming local elections.
But what else will they do?
Will some counties look to close early voting sites located on college campuses? Indeed that is already happening is some parts of the state.
Within a week of Governor Pat McCrory signing the new monster elections bill into law, several counties started taking unprecedented steps to make voting harder for all college students.
Last Monday, the Watauga County board of elections voted to eliminate the early voting site that had been located at Appalachian State University’s student center.
The following day, on the other end of the state, the board of elections in Pasquotank County went a step further in ruling Elizabeth City State University students may not run for local office and possibly will be barred from voting in future local elections.
And last Friday, the chair of the Forsyth County board of elections indicated his desire to have the board shut down the early voting polling site located at Winston Salem State University.
So, who’s next?
The answer should be “no one” if boards of elections are listening to Governor McCrory.
That’s because last week the governor in a series of radio interviews stated firmly that politics should have no role in precinct selection.
McCrory told WUNC’s Frank Stasio that precincts “won’t be selected based on politics or political partisan positions, which is wrong.”
Great. So the State Board Elections — a group that the Governor appointed — should enforce that. And they have every authority to do it since it is the SBOE that appoints all county boards of election members. And every county BOE enjoys a 2 to 1 Republican majority advantage.
So, hopefully these Republican dominated county boards of elections will be heeding the Governor’s message: “Don’t let politics decide where early voting sites are place.”
Interestingly enough on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the county boards of elections will be convening in Cary for a two day conference.
If Governor McCrory is a part of the program, he should take the board of elections from Watauga, Forsyth and Pasquotank counties to the woodshed for inserting politics into voting and precinct selection decisions. And he should remind everyone else not to follow their lead.
After all, McCrory stated last week that kind of action “is wrong.”
And on that point, McCrory is exactly right.
Bob Phillips is the Executive Director of Common Cause of North Carolina