Party chairmen express opinions on voting law changes

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2014

One day after a federal appeals court ruled on North Carolina’s election procedures, local party chairmen have opposite opinions on how the ruling might affect 2014 elections.
While Rowan Republican chairman John Leatherman said the ruling creates chaos and an opportunity for fraud, local Democratic chairman Geoffrey Hoy said it enables more Rowan County residents to vote.
A federal appeals court voted Wednesday by a 2-1 margin to grant a temporary order allowing same day registration and ballots filed outside of a person’s assigned district. The order was in relations to voting law changes passed last year. The court upheld other changes in voting law, such as shortening the number of early voting days.
Leatherman responded to the ruling, saying he wants voters to know that North Carolina’s elections are honest and fair.
“I cannot believe any judge would do something to cause this dramatic a change so close to an election,” he said. “Nobody should change anything this close to an election. We want people to know their vote counts and elections are run honestly.”
Leatherman said the change would likely not affect Rowan County elections tremendously, but it doesn’t help the voters believe that elections are fair.
“How does this turmoil help?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Hoy said the court ruling is a step in the right direction.
“It restores a very basic right in the process of practicing democracy,” he said. “This is a return to the good practice that we had until there were limitations. My only apprehension is how quickly will it be appealed to the Supreme Court.”
Hoy said criticism of same-day voting as allowing fraud is unfair and out of proportion.
“Nationwide studies show that it’s an absolutely fabricated idea,” Hoy said. “There’s almost no objective data showing that this voting twice thing ever happens in any notable numbers.”
He said fraud could occur in small groups, but it wouldn’t be enough to justify the law changes.
The court’s ruling has already prompted pleas to the U.S. Supreme Court to retain the changes passed last year. Lawyers for Gov. Pat McCrory and the state asked Thursday for the U.S. Supreme Court to block to the federal appeals court ruling.
North Carolina allowed same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting prior to last year’s law, but neither were permitted during the 2014 primary elections.
Leatherman and Hoy both agreed on one point — the benefit of additional days for early voting. The number of early voting hours in 2014 stayed similar to previous years, but the overall number of days were reduced as a result of last year’s changes
“We want republicans to vote early because so many get busy and just forget or don’t have time to go,” Leatherman said. “It may sound strange, but it’s a real thing.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246