Hodgepodge of voting rules means continuing chaos

So if you live in Robeson County and plan to vote in the upcoming General Election, you have 17 days — and 323 hours — to darken circles in advance of Nov. 8 at any of six sites scattered across the county, and one of those days is a Sunday, Oct. 30, when the church vans will be rolling and the parishioners will have explicit directions on how to cast their ballots.

Then there is the Election Day itself, when there will be a lucky 13 more hours provided.

Remember, no photo ID is required, so no excuse there.

Two things we know for certain: For some, 18 days to vote just won’t be enough time and their inability to do so will be someone else’s fault, probably a Republican, and after this election, as is standard in Robeson County, there will be reasons to question the integrity of the results.

The Robeson County Board of Elections on Tuesday got the memo from the state Elections Board on the days and hours of early voting, which this newspaper published yesterday, and will again when folks can begin casting early ballots on Oct. 20. Absentee voting, by the way, has already begun.

The state was called on to decide for Robeson County when its three-member Elections Board couldn’t pick one of two plans provided. The more generous plan was approved by the state Elections Board, but with a minor tweak, the moving of some hours provided at the beginning of early voting to the end, which better matches voting patterns locally.

Robeson was among 33 counties that allowed the state Elections Board to make the call on their early voting after their local boards could not come to a consensus, so what we end up with is a hodgepodge of 100 early voting plans across North Carolina.

We understand that demographics vary by county, but what would be the objection to a statewide early voting plan that would be generous and preclude the kind of silliness that occurred in Raleigh last week, when the Elections Board had to examine and make decisions for dozens of counties? Why should someone in Robeson County have more or less time to cast a ballot at more or fewer voting sites simply because of their physical address.

And why do more than 30 states have voter IDs, but North Carolina can’t, and why does New York not provide early voting, but a court decides that 10 days in North Carolina are too few, and in fact discriminatory?

As long as this nation allows state legislatures to make election rules, we are sentenced to election-year chaos as plans are crafted to the benefit of the controlling party. Kind of like gerrymandered district lines, a political staple for decades.

There has to be a better way. At least the lawyers will have plenty of work.

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