Update: Here’s the full schedule sent to the State Board of Elections on August 18.
The Durham County board of elections enterim director described the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion this month on North Carolina’s voter I.D. law “abrupt,” but the board is doing what it can to make the best of a less-than-desirable situation on its end.
Just weeks after it finalized a twelve site, ten-day early voting plan it had to amend it. Now there is a modified seventeen day schedule. The first week of early voting—October 20 through the 26—voting will be open at five locations.
Then starting on October 27 and through November 5 voting will take place in thirteen locations across the county.
The board of elections also extended voting hours for the majority of the seventeen days to 7:30 p.m. The only two days that will not have extended hours is October 31 (which will close at 5:30 p.m.) and November 5 (which will close at 1 p.m.).
Even before it decided on the plans, the board heard public comment—which seems a bit backwards, but for the most part the crowd of more than 100 people was OK with the set up.
Bill Brian, chair of the board, reminded the crowd it wasn’t required to take public comment, but would do so.
Some residents that spoke raised concerns about the lack of access to early voting sites by public transportation—including not using the Durham Station on Pettigrew Street as an early voting location. The Durham Station is a major transportation hub and centrally located within the city.
Another concern was raised about locating an early voting site at The Frontier, but that’s in the heart of the Research Triangle Park and many of the Durham County RTP-ers could utilize it (but we’ll wait to see how the numbers come in). And as elections officials said that location alleviates some of the stress on the already popular South Regional Library early voting site.
Most residents urged as much access to early voting as possible and allowing students access to early voting locations—there will be four campus locations, two at Durham Tech locations, one at Duke and one at North Carolina Central University.
One of the few Sunday voting balkers was Immanuel Jarvis, chairman of the Durham County GOP.
“As a Republican I believe that regardless if you’re rich, poor, disabled or not, or black or white or male or female, regardless of your socioeconomic situation you should be able to vote,” he said. “Even though we have extended early voting hours, and I don’t have a problem with that at all … I only have one issue. I am vehemently opposed to Sunday voting. It bothers my soul that banks are closed, that schools are closed, even liquor stores are closed. But we are asking our government agency to open on that particular day.”
One crowd member toward the front of the room responded to Jarvis saying, “This ain’t Chick fil A.”
The voting plan for Durham County is extensive. Over seventeen days there’s more than 1,440 hours of voting.
Sam Gedman, interim director of the Durham County Board of Elections, said the original ten day plan was ambitious, and the new plans unanimously approved Wednesday does not back down from that ambition.
It’s a substantial jump over the previous presidential election period. In 2012 the county had seven early voting locations with a total of 997.5 hours of voting over a seventeen day period.