Any honest conversation about the merits of making voting opportunities more convenient for the public needs to begin with this stipulation: Republicans generally oppose these steps, while Democrats are in favor — and those sentiments are never better betrayed than in the debate over whether a voter ID should be required to cast a ballot in elections.
We haven’t heard any protest yet, but that’s because we haven’t asked. We are confident that local Republican leaders aren’t pleased with a decision by the local Board of Elections on Thursday to allow Robesonians to vote on a Sunday for the first time ever in this county, that historic day being Oct. 21 when early voting for the Nov. 6 election begins.
John McNeill, the chairman of the Robeson County Democratic Party, and representatives of the local chapters of the Black Caucus and NAACP, which will push folks to the polls to re-elect President Obama, attended Thursday’s meeting in support of Sunday voting, and came away generally satisfied with that one-Sunday opportunity.
The board’s lone Republican, Steve Stone, made the vote unanimous when it was agreed the main site for early voting, the Elections Office in Lumberton, would join the three satellites sites in Red Springs, Fairmont and Pembroke in opening on Oct. 21 from 1 to 5 p.m. Stone realized that providing those hours of convenience for people in and around Lumberton made more sense than a protest vote that would be washed away by the two Democrats on the board.
Four hours on a Sunday might seem like much about nothing, but what will happen is that churches in the county will have their buses gassed up in order to herd their flocks to the polls with clear instructions on how the ballot should be marked. It is the way we do things in Robeson County, where nothing is cheaper to buy than a ballot.
To underline the hypocrisy of it all, we will ask: Would Democrats across the state have embraced an effort by the Republicans for the Sunday option in advance of the referendum on Amendment One?
The decision by the Elections Board follows an earlier one to open three satellite sites for the first time ever for early voting, so if there remains an excuse for not voting in the General Election, we would love to hear it.
For some reason, one we have never fully understood, a narrower voting window conspires against people who typically vote Democrat, but doesn’t slow the vote of Republicans. If the ideal held true that the integrity of an election were bolstered with each vote cast, there would be no compelling argument against early voting, the Sunday option, and no ID requirement, but that just isn’t the case in Robeson County, where hijacking an election is more science than art.
This demonstrates the clear advantage to having the majority on the Elections Board, which the Democrats enjoy because they occupy the Governor’s Mansion. If the polls hold true, Oct. 21 might be the only opportunity to vote in Robeson County on a Sunday until beyond the first Tuesday of November 2016.