North Carolina continues to alter its voting practices with a number of counties announcing that they will be cutting early voting hours. The Hill reports that 23 North Carolina counties will be offering a shorter window of time for residents to vote early than they did in 2012, which some worry is a way to hinder low-income and black voters from casting their ballots.
The state’s voting law status has been in the national spotlight as Governor Pat McCrory has fought to reinstate the state’s voter ID laws, which were deemed “discriminatory” towards minority communities. But the recent decision from Republican-led election boards brings up the conversation once again. The boards approved to reduce early voting hours in 23 of the state’s 100 counties. Eight counties have actually decided to put an end to Sunday early voting “out of respect for religious preferences.”
North Carolina represents a major swing state for the two presidential candidates, and some wonder if recent decisions will sway the election into Republican hands, as McCrory is a Donald Trump advocate. For instance, Bertie County, where 62 percent of the residents are black (and 66 percent of voters chose Barack Obama four years ago), will have 117 fewer early-voting hours this year, compared to 2012. But one of the most significant cuts comes in Lenoir County, where the early-voting hours have been cut down from 443 in 2012 to just 106 in 2016. While Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in that county, Mitt Romney still won it by 2 percent in 2012. The Hill reported that three counties with the highest percentage of African-American voters will see their hours cut.
Many Republicans contend that six days is enough time for people to vote, while Democrats in the state believe this will hamper minority voting opportunities. But not all counties have reduced their early voting hours. The News and Observer reported that 70 counties will have more early voting hours than in 2012 and three counties — Rowan, Greene and Hyde — will have Sunday voting hours.