North Carolina considers removing last Saturday of early voting
North Carolina is considering removing the last Saturday of early voting under a proposal that lawmakers say will bring uniformity to voting schedules across the state’s 100 counties.
The legislation, which has gathered support from both sides of the aisle, would put in place a 17-day early voting period that would operate on Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m at voting sites across the state, according to The News and Observer.
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Under the proposal, the voting period would begin on Wednesday, Oct. 17 and conclude on Nov. 2, which is the Friday before Election Day.
Democracy North Carolina, a nonprofit group that advocates for “increasing voting access and limiting the influence of big money,” told the local publication that the last Saturday is disproportionately used by black voters and that nearly 200,000 people cast ballots on that same day in 2016.
The group’s executive director, Tomas Lopez, further likened the bill to an elections law that was rejected by a panel of federal judges in 2013.
“Once again, politicians in Raleigh are coming back for a second bite at voting restrictions first introduced and overturned by a federal court on 2013, without input from election officials and the public,” Lopez told the publication.
“This latest proposal not only eliminates the popular, final Saturday of early voting, disproportionately used by African-American voters, but also creates onerous requirements that will put a strain on county election officials, disincentivize weekend early voting access, and reduce voters’ options to cast a ballot.”
Republican state Rep. David Lewis said the legislation would make election officials’ lives easier between running early voting and preparing for Election Day and said the proposal would make it more convenient for people to find out information about voting early.
“It’s trying to provide a uniform platform,” Lewis told the outlet.