The Orange Board of Elections (BOE) held 2 meetings in July, a week apart, to discuss a request for Sunday voting hours to be added for the upcoming November election. When it was first brought up as a request from religious groups who celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, our BOE chair commented that they could not make changes without 'hearing from the other side.' That caused a stir amongst the 15 or so people present that day. The murmur in the crowd was, What other side?
Another meeting was set for the following week, and advertised through a press release. Over 70 people turned up. The chair set 15 minutes for each 'side' to speak. A petition with 700 names from our communities requesting Sunday hours was presented, along with numerous other letters with multiple signatures. Representatives of various groups spoke for Sunday voting opportunities.
The 'anti' group of perhaps 8-10, included leadership of the local GOP, one of whom referred to "the Jewish race," which drew gasps from the crowd. He went on to say that "voting is a privilege, not a right," which then drew actual rebukes from the crowd for it’s inaccuracy. Someone exclaimed, a driver’s license is a privilege; voting is a Constitutionally guaranteed right.
The Democratic representative on the board put forward a motion to add Sunday hours. Neither of the 2 GOP members seconded it. The motion died. We will have no Sunday voting hours in Orange county.
I have attended every Orange BOE meeting since March of 2013. After the uproar caused by BOEs in Watauga County and Elizabeth City, I was proud to say that our board was not acting in a partisan manner, and I have stood up in public, even at the first meeting described above, and defended this board against charges of partisanship. I thought long and hard about what I would say in terms of sharing my perspective about this meeting with the public. At the first meeting I even said I cannot imagine any Republican who would say that people of faith who cannot vote on Saturday should not be allowed to vote on Sunday. I was wrong. As for defending this Board of Elections against charges of partisanship, I can do that no longer.