If Sunday voting returns for subsequent elections in Robeson County, it won’t be because of popular demand.
Robeson County cast its collective ballot on Sunday voting three days ago, and it’s clear this is a convenience that simply isn’t needed. The numbers, which are unbending, tell the story. Just 728 people cast ballots at the the four voting sites, and fewer than 100 voted at each of the three satellite sites. For the satellite sites, that works out to about one ballot cast every three minutes during the four-hour window from 1 to 5 p.m.
For comparison’s sake, on Monday at 10 a.m. at the main Elections Office in downtown Lumberton, there were about 25 people in the office voting, and about 15 more waiting in line to do so.
The cost to open four sites on Sunday, about $1,035, isn’t worth worrying about, but it did put to work elections staff who might have rather enjoyed that day with family or friends or simply relaxing.
Sunday voting is a solution looking for a problem. Local Democrats supported it because they believe every vote that is iffy will go toward a candidate with a “D” beside his or her name, but the idea that a four-hour window on a single Sunday will capture a vote that couldn’t be cast during 16 other days of early voting requires some mental calisthenics.
The other thing of interest on Sunday is that churches did not load up buses with parishioners for the trip to the Elections Office or a satellite site with implicit instructions on whom to support. We know get-out-the-vote folks on the Democratic side were disappointed that the church crowd wasn’t more robust. Count us as pleasantly surprised.
Perhaps church officials, mindful that they enjoy tax-exempt status, didn’t want to walk up to and then trample on what is not a very bright line. There is also the possibility that Sunday sermons focused not on politics but the true spirit of the Sabbath.
We don’t know the future of Sunday voting in Robeson County, but if polls are accurate, Republican Pat McCrory, now enjoying a double-digit advantage, will be the next governor of North Carolina. That means that local boards of election will have two Republicans and one Democrat, so don’t buy any stock on Sunday voting.
That could, of course, change with the 2016 race for the governorship, but that doesn’t mean the public’s eagerness to cast ballots on a Sunday will as well. If you can’t find time to vote, it will never be because the Sunday option wasn’t available.