Early voters in Lee County will be able to cast their ballots on a Sunday for the first time ever under an early voting plan adopted on Tuesday by the local Board of Elections, the Rant has learned.
Under the plan, the county’s two early voting sites – the elections board office at 225 S. Steele St. and the McSwain Extension Center at 2420 Tramway Road – will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 28. The plan also calls for the sites to be open the following Saturday, Nov. 3, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Otherwise, early voting will be available on weekdays from Wednesday, Oct. 17 to Friday, Nov. 2.
Despite having never been available in Lee County, Sunday voting has a somewhat lengthy and controversial history in North Carolina. In 2016, a decision by the legislature to alter Sunday voting availablility was attributed by state attorneys as being due to counties and precincts where it was available as “disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic.” Many African American churches and local NAACP chapters sponsor “Souls to the Polls” events – in which transportation is provided to polling sites – in counties and precincts where Sunday voting is available.
The plan was approved unanimously by Lee County’s Board of Elections, which is split between two Democrats and two Republicans. Absent a unanimous vote, Lee County’s early voting schedule would have been determined in Raleigh by the state Board of Elections.