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Some Chatham Democrats claim two weeks is not long enough to find the time to vote

By Linda Bienvenue
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - Each time I attend a board of commissioners meeting and listen to some of the public comments made, it makes me shake my head in wonderment at how in the world anything gets done in this county. There have been so many important and life-altering issues brought before the board, that I am hard pressed to choose one to speak about.

I guess I will have to pick my battles (oh - is that too confrontational a word?). So, I will start out with Ms. Mimi Pollard's proposed draft resolution presented to the BOC and also presented in Chatham Chatlist #4031 by the Democratic chairman, Randy Voller.

There is before the state's General Assembly, a bill to shorten the time period for early voting, and to possibly eliminate same day registration and voting. Ms. Pollard and the Democratic Chairman, Randolph Voller, apparently have a problem with this bill, as they feel that two weeks time is certainly not long enough for someone to be able to exercise their right to vote. Really? Exactly how much time is enough? Four weeks, two months? How about being able to vote all year long? That wouldn't be long enough either.

Isn't it amazing that when people in third-world countries are allowed to take part in an election in their countries, it is so important to them, that they make plans to travel on foot, on horseback, by donkey-cart, or whatever means necessary to get to the place to cast their votes on the one day that is their election day? Yet, here we are in Chatham County, North Carolina, where there are umpteen polling places, and yet we are disenfranchising possible voters because they cannot get to the polls to cast their vote. Ya gotta wonder about that.

I was curious about the 66 percent (Mimi's stats) of the early voters in the 2008 election. What percentage of those voters actually had an "emergency" (as Ms. Pollard mentions would most likely afflict them) on Election Day that year, and they breathed a sigh of relief because they realized that gee, they would not have been able to vote that year if they didn't have early voting for three weeks.

Or, how about the 60 percent of people who work outside of Chatham County (doesn't everyone?) and have to go in to work at 6 a.m. and don't get out of work until 8 p.m. They will most definately miss out on their opportunity to vote, because the polls are only open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Are thirteen hours just not long enough? It is for me - I work it -- it is a long day - but a very fulfilling one.

Oh, did I mention that this is before the North Carolina General Assembly, meaning that it is a state bill? I am sure that if they get Ms. Pollard's proposed draft of a resolution (on behalf of the Chatham County BOC, of course) - they will look at it, drop what they are doing, and collectively say ..... "Well, if this is what Chatham County wants, then this is what should be good for the rest of the 100 counties in the state."

Here is a little blurb that I found on that I think explains why Election Day is when it is:

Election Day, the day on which Americans vote for their elected officials, is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Americans vote for their president and vice president every four years on that Tuesday. They vote for their U.S. representatives every two years during even-numbered years, and they vote for their U.S. senators every six years; one-third of the U.S. senators are up for reelection every two years. Americans also vote for their state senators, state representatives, and many local officials on this day.

This date was set by Congress in 1845 to correct abuses caused by having allowed each state to appoint its electors any time before the date in December set for their convening. At that time, the nation was primarily rural, so Election Day was set for late fall, after the harvest would be brought in. At that time, many people would have to travel on foot to their courthouse or county seat to cast their vote, which could take a full day. So Election Day was set on a Tuesday to avoid conflict with Sunday church services.

To encourage people to vote, ten states now consider Election Day a legal holiday, and five additional states require employers to give their employees several hours off to allow them to vote. In other states, some employers give their employees the day off. Even so, millions of Americans do not take advantage of what may be their most valuable privilege.

Read more here.

Lastly, I would like to point out that even though the post of the resolution looks legitimate, it is not something that the Chatham County commissioners have drafted. It was simply drawn up by Ms. Pollard and the Chatham Democrat Party to persuade the Board, and the County, to go against the state and make their own rules.

Didn't the previous board of commissioners do that with the ICE resolution too?

Well, that's a matter for another day.

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