The Orange County Board of Elections, after hearing from voters who packed a meeting this week, will send two options for early voting to the State Board of Elections.
Neither plan adds Sunday voting, which many in the crowd supported. The state board will set the final early voting schedule for the Nov. 8 election.
The local options are due to the state by Aug. 25, elections director Tracy Reams said. There is no deadline for a decision, although officials are hoping they will act immediately, she said.
The local board met in response to a U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that the state’s 2013 voter ID law had “discriminatory intent” and targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
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The ruling prohibits the state from requiring voter IDs and restored an extra week of early voting, among other changes.
Orange County board members Jamie Cox, a Democrat, and Chairwoman Kathy Knight, a Republican, voted to keep the polls open 38.5 hours longer than were planned under the voter ID law’s shortened schedule. Cox sought an amendment adding Sunday hours but failed to get support, Reams said.
If the plan is adopted, voters will have 269.5 hours over 15 days to cast their ballots in early voting. The board approved five polling sites: Orange County Board of Elections Office, Carrboro Town Hall, Efland Ruritan Club, and the Chapel of the Cross and Seymour Center in Chapel Hill.
Republican member Bob Randall, who cast the dissenting vote, will submit an alternate plan.
The majority’s plan adds more hours and polling sites than necessary, Randall said, and he worries about asking poll workers to do more. Most already work 10 hours or more, six days a week, getting in early to set up and staying late to secure the ballots and lock up, he said.
“Having Sunday voting would just create undue hardship on (staff),” he said. “I had one of the staff members tell me that they’re working so late, such long hours that her mind became dazed; it was stressed out. And when that happens, we all know people are more apt to make mistakes.”
His alternate plan is based on the 2012 election, when the Democrat-controled board gave voters 528 early-voting hours, he said. He doesn’t expect the state board to approve that plan, however, since a Democrat and a Republican voted in the majority, he said.
Knight sent a statement but did not respond to specific questions about the decision.
“We do not have a plan yet. We did not reach an agreement of all board members,” she said in an email. “Two plans will now go to the SBOE.”
A majority of the Orange County Board of Elections has asked the state to allow early voting:
▪ 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, Oct. 20-Nov. 1, at Carrboro Town Hall and the Orange County Board of Elections office in Hillsborough
▪ Noon-7 p.m. weekdays, Oct. 20-Nov. 1, at Efland Ruritan Club, Chapel of the Cross (closing at 5 p.m. Oct. 31) and the Seymour Center
▪ 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22 and Oct. 29, all polling places
▪ 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Nov. 2-4 at Carrboro Town Hall and the Board of Elections office
▪ Noon-7:30 p.m. Nov. 2-4 at Efland Ruritan Club, Chapel of the Cross and the Seymour Center
▪ 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 5, all polling places