July 26, 2018/Press

New Report Shows Effects of Statewide GOP Effort to Suppress the Vote As Fight Over State Board Heads Back to Court

Raleigh – While the legal battle over the State Board of Elections (SBOE) heats back up today, new details from deadlocked county boards shed light on the real reason Republicans have waged a years-long battle to control our election boards.

In at least 15 North Carolina counties, early voting locations must be settled by the state elections board because local boards couldn’t come to an agreement. That includes populous counties like Wake and Durham and smaller counties like Dare and Brunswick. From AP:

Early-voting locations this fall in at least 15 North Carolina counties must be settled by the state elections board because local boards couldn’t agree on the details. State law requires county elections boards to make unanimous decisions on early-voting schedules, or the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement will decide for them. The state board is expected to meet early next month and approve plans for Wake, Buncombe, Durham, Orange and the other deadlocked counties.

Wayne County is already experiencing issues with the Republican legislature’s unfunded mandate forcing uniform opening and closing times for early-voting sites statewide. Wayne County Elections Director Dane Beavers said it will take “a little miracle” to comply with the law:

The extra day and added hours of daily operation will put a strain on the elections office because of additional poll workers and overtime that will be needed, Beavers said.

“It adds to the cost — a tremendous addition to cost because now we are talking about overtime hours where people are going to get time and a half,” he said. “It takes us to a price range between $15,000 and $20,000 for each site.” Beavers said his complete budget for early voting is $40,000 — the cost of operating two sites under the new rules.

The elections board wants four sites, he said. “I have got to find a way to squeeze four sites out of $40,000 from a range of $15,000 to $20,000 per site,” Beavers said. “So that is going to take a little miracle.”

In recent years, Republicans have changed our local and county boards to increase the chance that these board would end up deadlocked, kicking the county voting plans up to the SBOE.

Republicans have then waged a years-long battle to control the SBOE, either bringing it under Republican control or neutering it by creating a deadlocked 4-4 board. The proposed constitutional amendment goes even further than Republicans’ other attempts, creating a 4-4 board but with members handpicked by the legislature.

These changes are akin to backdoor voter suppression, for example, by leaving the largest college campus in North Carolina potentially without a voting location.

“Republicans push to control our State Board of Elections is part of a years-long fight to rig the ballot box and tie up in gridlock the one body responsible for overseeing our elections,” NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds said.“The end result is nothing more than backdoor voter suppression. These Republican attempts to rig our elections must be turned back every time they’re proposed.”