In this year’s legislative session Democratic legislators have submitted several bills that attempt to roll back sections of last year’s landmark election reform legislation (the Voter Identification Verification Act – VIVA), and this week’s Bad Bill highlights one of them. House Bill 1239, titled “An Act to Restore the Full Voting Period,” does essentially what the title says. Sponsored by Reps. Larry Hall (D-Durham), Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Garland Pierce (D-Hoke), and Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), the bill aims to add seven days to the one-stop early voting period for elections in even-numbered years.
Beginning with this year’s May 6 Primary, VIVA lessened the number of days for the in-person, early voting period from 17 days to 10 days. While the in-person, early voting window was shortened, the number of total voting hours remained the same as in comparable previous elections.* In addition, the elimination of same-day registration (SDR) took effect during this election.
Election turnout on May 6 utterly refutes the predictions made by critics of election reform who continue to contend that a shortened early voting period will disenfranchise voters. In fact, this year’s Primary Election proved the opposite to be true: Turnout, rather than slumping, increased by 147,700 voters, more than a 2 percentage point increase over 2010. Disproving another claim from the liberal-Left, African-American turnout also increased during early voting and overall – by nearly 2 percentage points.
Even while the early voting period had been shortened by seven days in 2014, 91,630 more people voted early at one-stop sites this year than in 2010. To make matters worse for the opponents of election reform, these numbers make it obvious that SDR was not missed by the voters. SDR allowed voters to wait until the one-stop voting period to register to vote and vote at the same time. In the end, it undermined the integrity of the voting process, and with this election voters have just shown they didn’t really need it.
Because this legislation attempts to reverse improvements in North Carolina’s voting process; ultimately chipping away at voter confidence; and because the latest election proved that 10 days of in-person, early voting combined with up to 60 days of voting early by mail in addition to Election Day, is more than adequate time for the people of North Carolina to cast their ballots, House Bill 1239 is this week’s Bad Bill of the Week.
*Thirty-nine (39) counties submitted request to reduce early voting hours. The State Board unanimously approved thirty-eight (38) such requests.