RALEIGH — In a crowded meeting at its downtown office on Tuesday, the state elections board voted to extend early voting hours and locations for Wake County residents and an array of others across the state.
The series of votes were along party lines, with the three Democratic members of the board getting what they wanted. There will be an extra Wake County precinct at the former site of Elevation Baptist Church in Knightdale, and one-stop absentee voting hours were extended in Anson, Craven, Forsyth, Pamlico, Richmond, Wake and Wayne counties.
As one county official who addressed the board said, conventional wisdom holds that Democrats stand to benefit from additional weekend hours because voting blocs that tend to vote Democratic are often more able to vote on weekends.
With many in the crowd of 50-plus attendees on her side, Kristi Tally, secretary of the Wake County elections board, made a plea for the state board to replace the plan adopted by her countys board.
Wake County voters desperately need your support, Tally said.
She argued that the county plan passed in August by a three-member board comprised of her, Josh Howard and Aida Doss Havel would constrict voting opportunities in East Raleigh and limit the availability of precincts ahead of an expected uptick in turnout this November.
Howard offered a rebuttal, arguing that the cash-strapped county would not be able to pay for the extra hours or the extra voting site. Wake County has only provided a number for the total amount it can spend on the election, but has not broken out how the money would be spent.
Tally said until that happens she is unable to show where the money for the additional location and longer hours will come from.
Ronald Penny, a member of the state board, also criticized the county-approved plan, saying it puts an undue burden on my ability to vote.
Im still struggling with my right to suffrage, a right guaranteed to me in the Constitution of the United States, being compromised, he said.
After the meeting, Howard accused the board of playing politics by voting along party lines and of overreaching by going against the county decision.
We had already provided for more early voting in Wake County this cycle than ever before, Howard said. This can only be found and calculated for partisan advantage.