North Carolina considers shortening early voting by a week

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May 14, 2011

North Carolina

RALEIGH, North Carolina: The North Carolina House of Representatives gave tentative approval on May 12 to shorten early voting in the state by a week. Following an hour-long debate, members voted 61-53 for the bill, mostly along party lines. Democrats argued against the bill, saying it is misguided and could result in voter suppression. Republicans say less than 30% of early voting takes place the first week, and the measure would save money. Ultimately, three first-term Republicans, John Faircloth, Charles McGrady, and Thomas Murry, joined Democrats in voting against the bill.[1]

The bill would move back early voting to begin the second Thursday before an election, whereas it currently starts the third Thursday before an election. The state began early voting in 2000, and in the 2008 general election over 2.4 million voters cast ballots at an early voting site. Rep. Paul Stam (R), a primary sponsor of the bill, said shortening the voting period effectively shortens the election and would take the advantage away from candidates with more money.[2]

Rep. Henry Michaux, Jr. (D) saw it differently, stating, “This bill is designed to eliminate participation in the election process, particularly when it concerns the African-American community.”[3] Rep. Kelly Alexander, Jr. (D) agreed, saying "The trend in this country is to make it easier for people to vote, not harder. The effect of this measure will be to disenfranchise, that it will suppress the vote."

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