The Wake County Republican Party is calling on its members to lobby against expanded early voting opportunities, arguing more sites and hours “only creates additional opportunity for chaos.”
“The Democrat request will greatly increase the cost to taxpayers,” the message says, calling the spending a “waste.”
“It has been proven that additional days and locations do NOT increase the number of voters who vote early.”
The email does not include a source for that claim.
County election boards – which all have a Republican majority under state law because North Carolina has a Republican governor – have developed new early voting schedules in response to a federal court ruling that threw out the state’s voter ID law. In addition to revoking the state’s photo ID requirement, the ruling requires counties to offer 17 days of early voting.
The voter ID law limited early voting to a 10-day period, but counties were required to offer at least the same number of voting hours as they did during the 2012 election. The court ruling eliminates that floor on hours – meaning that counties can legally provide fewer hours and fewer early voting sites than they did in the last presidential election.
A number of county elections boards did not unanimously approve a new early voting schedule – with votes sometimes splitting along party lines – which means the State Board of Elections will review competing proposals and set a final schedule for those counties.
The state Republican Party had encouraged GOP appointees to county elections boards to “make party line changes to early voting” by limiting the number of hours and keeping polling sites closed on Sundays.
The lobbying push from Wake County Republicans comes after the Wake County Democratic Party urged its members to request more early voting hours than the county board majority initially approved.
Democrats provided a pre-written message for its members to submit to the State Board of Elections, which is taking public comments online until Monday.
“Please adopt early voting plans that expand the opportunity for voters to exercise their constitutional rights,” the suggested message says. “Please adopt plans that include evening hours, weekend hours (including Sundays), and convenient sites to serve the most people.”
Democrats are opposing plans to open only one early voting site – the county elections office in downtown Raleigh – during the first week of the period. They suggest adding a site at Chavis Recreation Center because “limiting Chavis during the first week would also disproportionately impact African-American voters.”
Carter Wrenn, a longtime Republican campaign strategist in Raleigh, recently told The Washington Post that the GOP’s stance on early voting is “political.”
“Look, if African-Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican, they would have kept early voting right where it was,” Wrenn told the paper. “It wasn’t about discriminating against African Americans. They just ended up in the middle of it because they vote Democrat.”