RALEIGH, N.C. — The Latest on early voting plans being decided by the North Carolina State Board of Elections (all times local):
North Carolina’s elections board has wrapped up work resolving how early in-person voting will occur this fall in counties containing half of the state’s registered voters while trying to comply with a federal court ruling that demanded more early voting days.
The state board met for more than 10 hours Thursday approving plans in 33 counties where local boards couldn’t agree on early voting sites, times and dates over a 17-day period starting in late October.
There was supposed to be 10 days, but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw that out this summer because the judge said a ballot access law was approved by Republicans acting to discourage black Democrats from voting.
The GOP-led state board retained Sunday voting in several counties but generally declined to expand or eliminate it. The board also expanded voting hours in big counties surrounding Raleigh and Charlotte to handle presidential-year turnout.
The county surrounding Charlotte, North Carolina, will have more early voting options after state election officials decided a schedule approved by local Republicans was inadequate for this fall’s election.
A majority of the State Board of Elections voted Thursday night for an expanded plan in Mecklenburg County, where 10 percent of North Carolina’s registered voters live.
There will now be 10 locations during the first week of early voting. Democrats had complained that only six locations would have been open during the first week and would have meant fewer voting hours overall compared with 2012.
Democrats on the state board still voted against the plan. They were worried the additional number wouldn’t be enough to handle expected turnout. There will be 22 locations during the rest of early voting.
The state board was working into the evening to resolve contested early voting schedules in 33 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
North Carolina’s Board of Elections has greatly expanded early in-person voting in more counties, including the state’s largest by voter registration.
Wake County’s electorate comprises more than 10 percent of the state’s 6.7 million voters and includes the capital of Raleigh. The Republicans who lead Wake’s board had offered only one site for the entire county during the first week of voting.
By a 3-2 vote, the state board instead Thursday agreed to a local Democratic plan opening up eight additional sites and providing a second Sunday of voting.
The board also voted Thursday to extend evening voting hours in coastal New Hanover County and add more sites in rural Edgecombe County.
The state board has been meeting all day to resolve contested early voting plans in a third of North Carolina’s 100 counties. These conflicts occurred after a court ruling ordering early voting return to 17 days, up from ten.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections is working through conflicts among local election officials unable to agree on early voting schedules adjusted after a federal court struck down a law approved by Republicans that had trimmed such voting by a week.
Board members debated before a standing-room only crowd Thursday while working their way through contested plans covering 33 of the state’s 100 counties.
Most local boards were divided over the number of early voting hours or whether or not they would allow Sunday voting. The state board had worked through a half-dozen counties Thursday morning and approved plans backed by majorities on local boards.
For Rockingham County north of Greensboro and Gaston County west of Charlotte, the board approved the plans of each board’s Republican members that don’t allow Sunday voting.
North Carolina election officials are scrutinizing proposed early voting schedules in a third of the state’s counties that were altered when a federal appeals court struck down ballot access laws written by Republicans.
The State Board of Elections was slated to meet Thursday to settle disputes after local boards couldn’t agree on dates, hours or sites for in-person voting that now covers 17 days this fall. The decisions are important in a presidential battleground state. Adjustments could affect turnout.
Early voting previously covered 10 days before judges ruled this summer that the legislature reduced the length of time with discriminatory intent toward black voters. Civil rights activists accuse some Republicans of seeking to get around the legal decision by curbing hours or eliminating Sunday voting. GOP leaders say criticisms are purely political.