My Turn, Elaine Hewitt: Time to bust longtime election myth

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 23, 2022

By Elaine Hewitt

One-stop and early voting does not increase voter turnout. It only changes which day people vote, if they vote.

Do I have your attention?

Let me begin by thanking our Rowan Board of Elections (BOE), both the Republican and Democrat members, for reaching a unanimous schedule for one stop/early voting for the 2022 primary. The date of the primary has changed, but hopefully, they will honor the format that they have already agreed upon.

The N.C. Board of Elections, Democrat majority, decided that our Rowan County 2021 municipal elections would have maximum hours for our early voting site, despite the fact that the number of voters who turnout for municipal elections is very low. Why?

Before the Rowan BOE’s vote to set our 2022 primary early voting hours, I researched our most recent election type, Rowan municipal elections and the primary that parallels our 2022 primary — ones without a presidential election.

No-excuse one-stop early voting began in 2002. Before then, everyone voted on one day, Election Day, unless they qualified for an absentee mail-in ballot. Even today, not all states have early voting, and not all have no-excuse absentee voting.

For municipal elections, the average voter turnout before early voting began was 30%. After early voting began, voter turnout dropped to 15.56%. Municipal election voter turnout is half of what it was before early voting began. For non-presidential primaries, the average voter turnout before Early Voting Began was 21.65%. After early voting began, it declined to 16.02%.

In both types of elections, voter turnout has declined significantly. Is it because of early voting? Making Election Day less special may be at least one factor. It hasn’t helped.

Liberals like to say that reducing the number of hours of early voting hurts voter turnout. Where’s the data? Liberals like to throw out hateful names against people who are trying to be good stewards of the local populations’ financial and personnel resources. During the 2020 COVID-19 election, many of our election workers worked 17 days straight, with most of those days being 12 hours long. Such a schedule was inhumane and increased the risk of errors which could result in a loss of election integrity.

All effort should be made to ensure reasonable voting schedules. All effort should be made to question the baseless, slanderous name-calling attacks in the media. Ask for the data.

Elaine Hewitt is chair of the Rowan County Republican Party.