In a 2-0 decision (with one abstention), the Durham County Board of Elections approved the State Board of Elections' recommendation to extend early voting hours until 5 p.m. Saturday. Meanwhile, other counties, including Orange and Currituck, refused.
(Update: According to the State Board of Elections website, Wake County has also extended voting until 5 p.m. at all of its early voting sites.}
"All over, we were getting calls--dozens and dozens--saying, 'You're open till 5 o'clock now,'" Mike Ashe, the director of Durham County Board of Elections, told the three-member board. "To not open until 5 o'clock would be disastrous, because everybody now believes we have. Plus, we've got a lot of people wanting to vote."
Ashe, who is not a voting member on the board, was referring to media reports that the SBOE ordered counties to extend hours until 5 p.m. Saturday; in fact, the state agency had merely recommended the extension. However, each county's board of elections was required to meet and decide on whether to extend hours. If one board member approved of the extension, the director was required to implement the change--even if he or she did not agree.
In an Oct 31 e-mail obtained by the Indy, SBOE Chairman Larry Leake informed elections directors that they must go forward with the 5 p.m. deadline, unless their board unanimously disapproved. [etheridgeletter (PDF, 16 KB]
"If a member feels that the one stop sites should remain open until 5PM, I trust that you will fully implement that decision," Leake wrote in the letter, addressed to Mary Etheridge, director of the Currituck County Board of Elections, and forwarded to SBOE staff and county directors. "If it is impossible for you to do so, you, of course should resign."
A new CNN poll shows Kay Hagan opening up a lead over Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Poll tracking sites such as Pollster.com and Talkingpointsmemo.com have changed their assessment of the race from "toss-up" to reflect the trend.
However, this data doesn't seem to reflect the fallout from Dole's widely reviled "godless" ads. The poll was conducted Oct. 23-28, from 667 likely voters.
Update: A DOJ spokesman said he could not disclose why the counties and cities were selected for monitoring because it could signal the potential abuses officials may be looking for."The whole purpose is to unobtrusively protect ballot access," he said.
Some folks care about elections.
Some folks care about whether Raleigh ever gets more phallic buildings.
"The Edison" -- if built: Four more giant, uh, buildings.
[This view's from the "front" along Wilmington Street. "Behind" these stalactites are Moore Square and City Market, where the little people will still be welcome, we trust.]
That's one-third of all registered voters, and 58 percent of the 2004 voter turnout. 1.9 million have cast ballots at one-stop voting sites, and the rest have mailed in absentee ballots.
For the full report, click here (PDF, 19 KB).
The Herald-Sun reports that Durham Mayor Bill Bell caused a stir at yesterday's Triangle-wide transportation planning committee meeting when he suggested that if elected officials call on the state for permission to levy a sales tax on transit, they also forgo a public referendum a la the prepared meals tax.
Said Bell after the meeting:
"At some point, when issues are big enough and important enough, elected officials ought to be trusted to carry [them] out," he said. "I've been involved in this thing a long time. If we don't get the transportation issue solved, we're going to have a slow death, in terms of growth. And it doesn't just benefit the region. It benefits the state."
At issue is the proposed $8 billion dollar bus and rail network that would support Wake, Durham and Orange counties. If officials are not granted the authority to push through the tax, supporters will have to seek the approval of voters in all three.
The Charlotte Observer reports that Mecklenburg County Republican Party Chairman Lee Teague opposes the county's extension of voting hours on Saturday, in part because it is "unfair to election workers, who are already stressed." (The paper provided no direct quotes from Teague.)
So, in addition to voting being an affront to democracy, it now is tough on election workers. Maybe we should give them an extended lunch break on Tuesday?
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger has departed on a three-day "Old Fashioned, Hand-Shaking, Back Roads and Small Towns" tour that stretches from Murphy to Whalebone, along "every inch of US 64." Judging by the steady schedule of diner breakfasts, barbeque lunches and greasy-spoon dinners, Munger will likely be jogging back to Durham. Catch him in Pittsboro, at S & T's Soda Shop, 4:30-5:30 on Saturday. Or call 919-475-2371 to find out his location later that night in Raleigh.
Click here for a full schedule, and a Google Map of the trip.
The N.C. Council of Churches stands by Kay Hagan, who is after all an elder of one of its biggest member churches. Its letter to Sen. Dole:
The North Carolina Council of Churches does not endorse or oppose candidates for political office, and neither you nor Sen. Hagan should construe this letter as taking a position about the outcome of your race. The Council has, however, called for greater civility in political discourse, and we cannot remain silent when you challenge the beliefs of faithful fellow Christians and suggest that a leader in one of the state’s oldest and largest denominations doesn’t believe in God.
Full text below.