Bills aim to change voting in our state, both parties fired up - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Bills aim to change voting in our state, both parties fired up

Bills aim to change voting in our state, both parties fired up

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Early voting cut short, no more same-day registration, and an ID requirement to vote – It's just a sampling of the changes laid out in several new bills making their way through our state legislature.

And not everyone is happy about them.

"What these bills should really be called are the longer lines to vote bill," says Gerrick Brenner, the executive director of the left-leaning group, Progress North Carolina. "These bills are really about making it harder for voters to vote."

Brenner's group held a press conference in Pitt County Tuesday to denounce the proposals. They echoed democratic arguments that these measures will suppress voter turnout and result in long lines at the polls.

"This is not a problem that we're looking to solve," says Jim White, the chair of the Orange County Board of Elections. "And that's the core problem I have with it. Show me the studies. Show me the numbers that say we'll benefit by cutting early voting. They don't exist. All that will happen by early voting being cut is inconvenience to voters."

The Republican-sponsored bills would also ban Sunday voting, eliminate straight-party voting and strip parents of tax exemptions if their child registers to vote anywhere but home.  

Bill supporters argue these changes, plus a voter ID law, would make the election system more efficient, prevent voter fraud and save money.

"I think the financial aspect is part of the reason that people want to cut down on early voting," says Brad Lockerbie, an ECU professor and chair of the university's Political Science Department. "But also if those people will show up and vote on a traditional Election Day, then the added expense has no benefit."

Lockerbie says there are pros and cons to each bill, but says winning elections remains the top priority for both parties.   

"Democrats are going to try to make certain that Democrats get to the polls," he says. "Republicans are going to make certain Republicans get to the polls. And both sides want the other side to stay home on Election Day. If you're surprised by that, you're surprised by human nature."

2.5 million people, or about 57 percent of all voters in North Carolina, cast their ballot early in the last election. Despite the Republican argument that early voting gives an advantage to Democrats, consider that in the 2012 election, the majority of voters in our state voted Republican for president, governor and the majority of our state lawmakers.


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