This week’s “Bad Bill of the Week” is House Bill 188, Early Voting on Weekends. It is sponsored by Representatives Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Pitt) and Garland Pierce (D-Hoke) and goes a long way to expose the apparent “one-size fits all” attitude of so many elected politicians. HB 188 seeks to require all 100 counties to conduct at least 20 hours of one-stop voting in total on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) in first primaries and in General Elections in even numbered years.
Currently, North Carolina law (NCGS 163-227.2) sets out a 17 day period for all 100 counties to conduct one-stop voting in the Boards of Elections offices. The period begins “not earlier than the third Thursday before the election” and ends on the Saturday before the election. The last Saturday is the only weekend day required to be used in the one-stop early voting period. It is the County Board’s responsibility to develop a one-stop plan during this window and it is the County Commissions responsibility to fund the plan. The plan must be passed unanimously by the County BOE and if not, one or more of the members may petition the State Board of Elections to adopt a plan.
With just a little research (using the Civitas Vote Tracker) we conclude that this bill is just another unnecessary, unfunded mandate. Unnecessary, because common-sense tells us that there are only a few very large counties that are probably operating at or above 20 hours on weekends already to facilitate their voters, especially in a Presidential Election. And, common-sense would also tell us that many counties in most elections could vote all their one-stop voters in just one 20 hour period. Take a look at the chart below.
|County||2010 General Election One-Stop Voters||2010 General Voters Per Hour in a 20 Hour Period||2012 Primary One-Stop Voters||2012 Primary Voters Per Hour in a 20 Hour Period||2012 General Election One-Stop Voters||2012 General Voters Per Hour in a 20 Hour Period|
Because the legislature should leave the decisions as to where and how often one-stop voting should occur in North Carolina’s counties to the local BOE’s who are charged with administering the elections and to the County Commissioners who are required to appropriate reasonable and adequate funds for the elections, HB 188 is this week’s Bad Bill of Week.