Critical in general of the new N.C. voter ID law, the local NAACP chapter has awarded a near failing grade to Buncombe County’s implementation of it. The primary concern is the number of hours allocated to early voting especially in conjunction with expected complications surrounding identification.
Press release from Asheville- Buncombe County Branch# 5363 NAACP:
At the November 16th meeting, board staffs asserted that the change in Early Voting captains’ shifts would increase efficiency, effectiveness and reduce overtime, but there was no data or other evidence offered to support the claims. While having appropriate coverage of elections workers at the polls is a prerequisite, the priority should not be the convenience of those workers, but the access of voters to the polls. Splitting the captains’ shifts into two five-and-a-half hours on 10-hour days, or six-and-a-half hours on 12-hour days is a solution. For the 2016 primary staff recommended 11 sites be open for 783 hours, a significant reduction from 2012.
At the November 24th meeting, a community member expressed support for revisiting the previous week’s approved 783 hours with the goal of increasing hours to accommodate the first time implementation of photo ID.
While the hours were increased slightly to 791 from 783, the Asheville-Buncombe Branch of the NAACP suggests that the shortened hours will cause unnecessary delays and discourage voter participation. Given that the two meetings fell well short of expectations, we are grading the board on its decision.
D minus to the Buncombe County Board of Elections for slashing Early Voting hours by 39 percent for the March 2016 primary election, that is despite an expected increase in voters and the first time implementation of North Carolina’s photo ID requirement. Buncombe’s Elections Services staff, known for the highest quality work and efficiency, supported the Board’s decision with a weak case that failed to offer meaningful alternatives. The Board of Elections’ decision constitutes the first rollback in Early Voting practices in Buncombe, which has had a reputation for leading the state in electoral practices. And once again Sunday voting was omitted.
When the General Assembly passed the Monster Voter bill in 2013, cutting a week from the Early Voting period (among other things), it included a provision prohibiting a reduction in the total number of Early Voting hours. A county board could request a waiver from this prohibition, and seek a reduction, but only by a unanimous vote. The vote was unanimous. So much for the firewall.