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My Turn, Elaine Hewitt: Salisbury Post got it wrong on voting law

On Aug. 21, the Salisbury Post ran an editorial, “Blatant bid to block votes.” The facts don’t support their assertion.

Beginning with the title, what proof does the Post have that votes are being blocked? The title is based on the false assumption that having fewer days of early voting will reduce voter participation. There has not been a consistent, significant increase in voter turnout with the introduction of no-excuse early voting in 2006 (https://www.ncsbe.gov/voter-turnout). There has been an increase in voter turnout since implementation of the N.C. voter ID law.

• Voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election was 68 percent, within the range for 1972-2004 of 59 percent to 69 percent and less than the peak in 1984. It is reasonable to disregard the turnout for 2008 due to the uniqueness of that election; however, even 2008 was only 1 percent higher than in 1984.

• In non-presidential election years, voter turnout in 2006 and 2010 is lower than most of the years 1974 -2002.

• In non-presidential primaries there appears to be a decrease in participation. The peak was in 2002 with 21 percent voter turnout and two other earlier years at 18 percent. However, early voting participation and overall voter participation increased in 2014 compared to 2010, after the Voter ID law went into effect.

Only in presidential year primaries does there appear to be increased voter turnout. Even with that, voter participation increased after the number of early voting days decreased (2016 compared to 2012). Note, the number of voting hours in 2016 was required by the voter ID law to equal or exceed the number of hours available in 2012, just on fewer days.

“…Dallas Woodhouse [executive director of the N.C. Republican Party]…doing his best to make sure fewer people have an opportunity to vote.” Again, this is not supported by the data. Also, Democrat judges, not Woodhouse, removed the requirement for a minimum number of early voting hours.

“The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country…” This is based on what criteria? Thirteen states do not have in-person no-excuse early voting. They must have an excuse to request an absentee ballot. Thirty-two states require a photo ID. That number increases to 33 in 2018. Only 13 states allow same day registration and voting.

In 2014, election workers asked if voters had a photo ID. In Rowan, only 7 hundredths of 1 percent (.07 percent) did not have an ID. That did not mean they couldn’t get one. The legislature amended the law to give some leniency for people who could not get a photo ID. There were no problems identified during the 2016 primary in Rowan County due to the photo ID requirement.

“Republicans claim that long periods of early voting, preregistration for teens and out-of-precinct voting increase voter fraud, a red herring if there ever was one. Very few instances of voter fraud have been found in North Carolina.” This is like Bill Clinton saying, “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” If voter fraud is only defined as cases that are prosecuted and proven in court, then there are cases, but not enough. However, if no one driving on Interstate 85 in Rowan County on a specific day received a speeding ticket (and was processed in court), that doesn’t mean no one was speeding that day.

The N.C. Board of Elections identified hundreds of guaranteed double voting (a felony) and likely tens of thousands of cases of double voting. This is with only comparing our state database with 27 other states. As more states join in the process, the number will only increase. They also identified 81 dead voters who could not have legally voted. I identified one case in Rowan which was not caught by the N.C. Board of Elections due to the time span chosen.

“What does it say about a party when it finds strength not in broadening its own scope but in restricting access to the polls for others?” With that logic, the Salisbury Post should advocate for all county voting sites to have an equal number of voting hours.

“It’s hard to trust a system so fraught with political manipulation.” Then, the Salisbury Post should express displeasure with Democrat judges who threw Congressional and N.C. Supreme Court primaries into a confused state after the primary election cycle had begun and with Democrat judges who added confusion to the 2016 general election.

Elaine Hewitt, a former member of the Rowan Board of Elections, is a member of the Rowan Republican Executive Committee.

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