After a recent 2-1 vote in favor, the Lenoir County Board of Elections is seeking state and federal approval of a measure to have the polls open during one Sunday afternoon of early voting this spring.
“This is a baby step for us and we’ll see what the voter response is,” board Chairman Sharon Kanter said.
Kanter named 12 counties in North Carolina that have instituted Sunday voting during their early voting periods since 2008 — Wayne County has since stopped opening polls on Sundays, leaving 11 counties which still hold Sunday voting.
She said Sundays in some counties have seen the highest voter turnout of the early voting period, citing State Board of Elections data from the 2008 and 2010 elections.
“In those two elections, the Sunday voting, in no instance, was a bust,” Kanter explained. “It was not the lowest turnout day, but in some counties it was not the highest turnout day — as it was in others.”
Kanter said the data showed board members that Sunday voting “could be a huge convenience to our voters.”
In Lenoir County, early voting for the 2012 federal, state and local primary election begins on April 19 and lasts through May 5; Election Day for the primary is May 8.
Polls are traditionally closed during weekends for early voting — except for the final day, which is a Saturday — but the Lenoir County board proposes opening the polls for several hours during the afternoon of Sunday, April 29.
“We will track the numbers for the first time and see what happens,” Kanter said.
The county must obtain approval for the Sunday voting from the state board and the U.S. Justice Department before implementing it, according to Elections Director Dana King.
Kanter said the proposal will be part of the election plan the county submits to state and federal officials before the primary.
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy posted a poll question regarding Sunday voting on his personal Facebook page recently, and those who commented on the question appeared to be against it, writing statements such as “a big no!!!!!!!!”
Kanter expected the Sunday voting proposal, along with the rest of Lenoir County’s election plan, to be approved in time for primary early voting.
“This is a standard operating procedure for every election,” she said of the election plan.
The Lenoir County elections board is now holding meetings on the third Wednesday of every month, and the 2-1 vote to seek approval for Sunday voting took place at its Feb. 15 meeting.
The minutes of each meeting are also posted on the Board of Elections website, co.lenoir.nc.us/boe.html.
David Andersoncan be reached at 252-559-1077 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.