Longer voting lines will be the new normal

Aug. 01, 2013 @ 01:34 AM

To the editor:

Comedian Red Foxx used to say we have to go to the polls because “the polls won’t come to you.” I wonder if he was a North Carolina voter.

The polls will close on time. If you’re not in line by closing time, too bad, go home, try again next election. If you can’t take Election Day off, try to get your employer to let you off early. If you drive to your precinct, don’t get there until 5:30 or so and find a long line . . . well, that’s the new normal!

The lines will be longer as it is now against North Carolina law to provide a straight-ticket check box, so the voter will have to find each candidate’s name and check box, and voting will take each voter longer to finish.

The new requirements are likely to slow the process and lengthen the lines as poll workers try to match what you looked like when you got your ID with what you look like on Election Day.

The other change likely to increase the wait is the provision that cut the number of early voting days and eliminates all but one of the Early Voting locations in Caldwell County. 

Those turned away from early voting will either add to the lines on Election Day or give up entirely. 

We can be sure the media will be “all over” the long lines during the limited Early Voting days, dramatically reporting how long the lines are; interviewing those turned away when the clock struck the closing hour; and generally casting a gloomy picture of the difficulties voters encounter. Their reporting may get a few folks to take off early on Election Day, but the smart money is on a smaller turnout.

One bright spot is the “No ID? Vote Absentee!” provision in the law. You fill in a form to request an absentee ballot. No photo ID is required, just the “last four” of your Social Security number will meet the ID requirement. They will mail you a ballot to return by mail or in person. You’ll need two witnesses on your absentee ballot under the new law. Before the politicians “fixed” it this year, you needed only one.  However, you can vote at home over breakfast, avoiding long lines and the chance they might turn you away at closing time.

No ID? Vote absentee!

Charles Senf