I still think the move was bad politics, but apparently, reducing the number of early voting days in North Carolina wasn’t poor policy. The numbers I saw showed that more people voted early this primary than they did in 2010, when early voting stretched for about three weeks.
From a voting-rights perspective, the numbers should end suspicions that the early-voting change would suppress turnout. Still, politically, I think Republicans hurt themselves because the move gave the impression they wanted to curb turnout.
Personally, I have come to prefer early voting because it is convenient. For this year’s primary, I cast my ballot on the last day of early voting – May 3 – walking from the Hut, where I was helping with a Neuse Little Theatre set, to the former Smithfield Herald building, now owned and impressively renovated by the good folks at First Baptist Church.
May 3, if you’re not looking at a calendar, was Ham & Yam in Smithfield, so I got to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of that festival while on my way to the church annex.
I could have waited until Tuesday to vote, but that would have been inconvenient. On Tuesdays, I work in our Clayton office, and I’m usually on the way to Clayton before 6:30 a.m., which is when the polls open. I figure waiting until 6:30, driving to my polling place in Four Oaks, voting and then heading to Clayton would cost me a good hour of productivity on a Tuesday, one of my most-productive days of the work week.
A lost hour of productivity is a small price to pay for exercising my right, my obligation, to help choose the people who lead my country, my state, my county and my hometown. But why lose that productivity when I don’t have to? This year, I voted on a Saturday, a day off, so I lost nothing.
As I have written in this space before, Election Day is one of my favorite days of the year, and I am thankful the Republican-controlled General Assembly preserved early voting even as it sought to curb its cost.
Voting, because it is so important, should be as convenient as possible, and early voting makes it so. I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever cast my ballot again on the official election day.