‘These facts show just how desperate and detached from reality the fear-mongering partisans really are…’
(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) When the North Carolina state legislature passed a law this year requiring uniform and expanded hours for early voting, Democrats and their media allies said it would lead to voter suppression.
It did not, according to a press release from the office of Senate president pro tem Phil Berger, based on an analysis conducted by Raleigh TV station WRAL.
Opponents of the law claimed it would force counties to close some sites to provide the funds needed for uniform hours, leading to fewer opportunities to vote early. While indeed there were fewer voting sites, WRAL’s analysis indicates the uniform hours resulted in either no change in travel time or a closer polling site for 85 percent of voters.
In fact, at this point in the 2018 election cycle, more early votes have been cast than were cast in the entire 2014 early voting period. And the increase in total early voting hours has been a massive 92 percent.
Senator Ralph Hise, chair of the Senate Senate Committee on Elections, criticized the media’s initial coverage of the law.
“Our opponents spread a ridiculous conspiracy theory – picked up by unscrupulous reporters – that we tried to restrict early voting, but these facts show just how desperate and detached from reality the fear-mongering partisans really are. Hopefully, reporters and the public will take future outlandish accusations with a grain of salt.”
Republicans said the legislation was intended to increase early voting access by increasing options for those who work during the day.
But the media depicted it in a sinister light. In September, left-wing media nonprofit ProPublica published an article alleging the new law “could result in lower turnout” and quoted Democrats as suggesting the uniform voting hours were merely a ploy to cut early voting.
And just a few weeks ago, National Public Radio (NPR) refused to mention the huge increase in hours, preferring instead to focus on the small reduction in early voting sites.
Interestingly, the analysis suggested that the law impacts Republican voters more than Democrats, as most of the closures of early voting sites happened in rural counties. But even this impact is extremely minimal, with the additional driving time being less than a minute.
The increase in the number of early voters this cycle is especially impressive considering that North Carolina is in a “blue moon” election year, with neither a U.S. Senate race nor a governor’s race at the top of the ballot to drive turnout, though there are several key congressional races.
In 2014, the state was the site of a competitive and expensive Senate contest.
Senator Hise concluded, “Here’s a suggestion that will reveal the true motivations of those spreading ridiculous allegations: If the General Assembly had moved poll sites 600 yards closer in exchange for canceling 92% of early voting hours, would opponents of the new law start praising us? I think we all know the answer.”
Indeed, it appears the press has yet again failed to learn their lesson. Despite their own analysis, left-leaning WRAL chose the headline: “Early voting changes hit NC rural voters hardest, analysis shows. But will it matter in 2018?”