As this is being written, it’s unclear when the state Board of Elections will take a good look at the race for the Pembroke Town Council that ended — it appears — in a tie, and then was broken with the draw of a card. It’s also unclear what the board will determine, whether incumbent Allen Dial will keep his seat because of the luck of that draw, whether results will be changed by a reconstruction of the election and challenger Teresa Locklear will win the seat, or whether a new election will be ordered.
The question of whether a second Pembroke Council race, which was for the remaining two years of the term of the late Robert Williamson, will be affected is also hovering.
But a month after the November general election, what should be clear to anyone who isn’t driven by an agenda, is that there are serious problems with the exploitation of early voting in Robeson County. We will repeat our call for an investigation on the local level. There are crumbs that can be followed even if, in the end, a tail cannot be pinned on the offending donkey.
At the minimum, a shot over the bow is needed.
But there is good news, and it was delivered this summer by the Republicans in the General Assembly, the ones whom critics say want to keep people who tend to vote Democratic — minorities, the elderly, the poor, and students — from casting ballots.
The legislation crafted and approved by Republicans and then made law by the signature of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, is often assailed because it requires a state-approved photo ID by 2016. But other parts of the legislation kick in in time for next year’s May primary, a provision that shortens from 17 to 10 the days for early voting, and even better, the end of same-day registration and voting.
The shorter early voting period will compress the amount of time that local haulers will be able to round up low- and no-information voters to drive to the polls with implicit — if not explicit — directions on how to mark the ballot. But the best part is the elimination of same-day registration and voting, which always had a soft belly.
There were plenty of ballots that were tossed out by the local Board of Elections following the November municipal election because people from out of district used false addresses to register and vote on the same day; there were, we are convinced, plenty more tainted ballots that weren’t identified.
In elections that are decided by a handful or few voters, which is routine in this county, those tainted ballots can decide the outcome of the election. The new laws should restore some confidence in our local elections, although those who see Election Day as a payday are already looking for other ways to defeat the system and steal votes.