The Scotland County Democratic Women voted unanimously on Friday to voice its discontent with the recent decision by the county Board of Elections not to allow Sunday voting.
After state Sen. Bill Purcell brought up the issue, the group decided to draft a letter to the Board of Elections suggesting that it reconsider and allow the county a day of Sunday voting in exchange for one of the Saturday voting days already scheduled.
Board of Elections Director Dell Parker said that the board would consider the letter at its next meeting on Monday if the letter was submitted in time to be included in the agenda.
If the three-person board did decide to go back on its earlier decision, it still might not be possible for the change to take effect in time for the Nov. 6 election.
Because Scotland County is one of 40 “Section Five” counties in North Carolina, the board of elections would have to seek approval from the state Department of Justice to make any changes to the current election procedure.
“The Department of Justice would have 60 days to respond,” said Parker.
The county’s status as a “section five” county comes from the Voter Rights Act of 1965, which sought to establish fairness in the voting process to certain disenfranchised groups.
Parker said that a presentation was made to the board on July 2 by Nancy Shakir, Democracy North Carolina field organizer for Southeastern North Carolina, in support of Sunday voting, but that the presentation featured only data from metropolitan areas.
Following that presentation, elections board member Janna Williams requested that Shakir provide the board with data from rural counties.
“We have not yet received that information,” Parker said.
In Parker’s opinion, Scotland County voters already have sufficient time and opportunity to vote.
“There are 12.5 days of early voting, we started mailing out absentee ballots today and people have 60 days to mail them back, there are 13 hours to vote on election day — if you add all that up you’re looking at 1566 hours to cast a ballot. That is a lot,” Parker said.
During the meeting of the Democratic Women on Friday, NC Black Leadership Caucus Chairman Walter Rogers noted that Scotland County’s neighbors have all decided to allow Sunday voting.
According to Parker, each of those counties is different from Scotland County in an important way.
“Those counties have more registered voters than us. Each county should be considered individually. When you consider that we have an election with 35 to 40 percent turnout, where is the need for Sunday voting?” Parker said.
The argument against Sunday voting is one of dollars and cents, as well, Parker said.
“In 2008 we had people ask if we could add a Sunday, and they got an additional Saturday. The Obama committee was here saying they would … be sending us busloads of voters, and we had a total of four voters that day, at a staff cost of $900.”