October 15, 2013
If you are looking for an excuse not to vote in the municipal elections this year, there really isn’t a good one available.
All the laws passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, the ones critics say are designed to depress the vote in elections and not to ensure their integrity, aren’t in effect for the Nov. 5 election, including the one requiring that voters provide a photo ID.
We say too bad.
Although critics of the law say there is no evidence of widespread fraud available, it’s hard to find evidence of something without taking a determined look. Moreover, widespread fraud isn’t necessary to corrupt a municipal election in Robeson County, where candidates are routinely elected with just a handful of votes. It literally takes a single tainted vote.
It wasn’t that long ago that a race for a seat on the Lumberton City Council ended in a deadlock and was decided in a runoff that was, interestingly enough, fairly lopsided. So you do the math.
On Thursday, the 13-day early voting period begins, during which voters can cast ballots at the new Board of Elections Office at 800 N. Walnut St. People who are not registered still have the opportunity to register and cast a ballot on the same day, a convenience that will vanish with time.
There is no Sunday voting period as there was for the November 2012 General Election, when there was a local effort to make sure the church crowd cast that ballot for the incumbent president, but there will be 12 weekdays to vote from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., and a Saturday, Nov. 2, during which ballots can be cast from 8:15 to 1 p.m.
Anyone who can’t find the time during those 13 days has the Election Day itself, Nov. 5, to finally cast that ballot.
Despite all that time, we doubt more than 15 to 18 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots, which is a bit of a head-scratcher. Local town boards have tremendous sway over our day-to-day lives, especially our bank account, establishing tax rates, zoning laws, and fees for such things as water, sewer, electricity and trash pickup, but their members are traditionally elected by a small percentage of voters.
We encourage all eligible voters to exercise this right that too many take for granted and cast a ballot, preferably one that is informed. Remember, your vote counts even more in elections that have a sorry turnout — like the upcoming elections will.