Thumbs up for voter ID; thumbs down for the early voting cutback

One of the most controversial pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly pertained to access to voting. What started out as a initiative to require a voter produce a photo ID before casting a ballot morphed into a variety of changes on how, when and where people vote.

Ever since we started asking about the voter ID requirement, N.C. residents have supported it resoundingly. That continued in this month when 70 percent approved and 30 percent opposed.

But when it came to another part of the voting law, North Carolinians haven’t been so supportive. Early voting is one of the more popular initiatives of recent years. N.C. opened selective polls two-and-a-half weeks prior to Election Day to make voting more convenient for busy voters.

Last month, the legislature cut the early voting period by one week. That didn’t sit well with respondents in our poll: 51 percent oppose that change compared with 38 percent who support it.

I won’t dig deeper into the numbers because they pretty much show opposition across the board with one exception: 57 percent of Republicans support the early voting period cutback.

Voter fraud. Voter suppression. Arguments are made from both sides of the aisle as to whether the changes will suppress voting or have no effect. It is pretty clear that all of the voting changes combined are aimed at improving Republican performance at the ballot box. (That’s may simply be evening the scales that have been weighted in favor of Democrats for years.) Whether that will happen is unclear. Actual empirical data is not available or involve too many other variables. It likely will be another year or three before we know the impact of the changes.

— John Robinson

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