If you encountered a frustratingly long line at your polling place this morning (or do so later today), you can thank the current General Assembly and governor for the frustration. There are lots of reasons that North Carolina’s new “Monster Voting Law” is making voting more difficult in our state and thereby discouraging participation, but here is an especially pernicious one that’s been under-reported and that’s contributing mightily to the long lines like the one I encountered this morning: the end of “straight ticket” voting.
In 2012, 2.5 million North Carolinians cast a straight ticket ballot. Think about that. On a ballot like the one I wrestled with for several minutes this morning, painstakingly filling in the bubbles with a silly ballpoint pen (as an aside, can’t we figure out something better and easier than a bunch of worn-out Bic pens?), the time loss was probably at least five to seven minutes for anyone who voted in every partisan race. Now multiply 2.5 million times and you get hundreds of thousands of hours added to waiting times across the state. Add to this, the thousands of people who just give up and, well, you get the idea.
The bottom line: Longer, unnecessary waits and, you can be sure, great satisfaction amongst those who would cynically depress the vote in order to manipulate the results. As election watchdog Bob Hall noted in an op-ed several weeks back:
The tip-off of this exclusionary strategy, and indeed the whole rationale behind the sweeping changes to state election law, comes from statements by Jack Hawke, a former NC GOP chair, former president of the Civitas Institute, and former campaign manager for Pat McCrory. After the Democrats’ 2008 victory, Hawke wrote a column for the Carolina Journal explaining why the McCrory campaign fell short that year. Blame the straight ticket and early voting, he said. Read More