Clinton campaign lawyer files last minute effort on early voting rules

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The North State Journal—The North State Journal
Voters gather outside the North Carolina State Board of Election officials work to approve contested early-voting plans for 33 counties during a hearing in Raleigh on Thursday

RALEIGH – Hillary Clinton’s lead campaign lawyer filed a last minute request with a federal judge in the U.S. Middle District of N.C. over the weekend, asking that he force the State Board of Elections to change the early voting plans in five N.C. counties. Marc Elias is general counsel for Clinton’s presidential campaign and also represents the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governor’s Association, among other Democratic groups. Funded in part by billionaire George Soros, Elias’ firm has been instrumental in 2016 Democratic campaigns, filing cases to stop redistricting and voting laws across the country, saying they suppress the vote of minorities. This time, he’s filed a request with a federal judge on behalf of the NC NAACP and the League of Women Voters, calling the group the “Duke Intervenor Plaintiffs,” arguing that, among other things, the five plans don’t meet the requirements of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that rejected much of N.C.’s voter ID law. They are asking that the judge rule by Friday October 7.According to the request, at issue are the plans in the more urban counties of Mecklenburg (Charlotte), New Hanover (Wilmington), Nash (Rocky Mount), Forsyth (Winston Salem) and Guilford (Greensboro). Elias’ brief complains that the polls in Mecklenburg County would not stay open late enough on November 5, the last day of Sunday voting, and that in the remaining counties there aren’t enough Sunday voting hours. The filing comes three weeks after the State Board of Elections reviewed the plans of counties where the local election boards could not unanimously agree on a 17-day early voting plan. Prior to the 4th circuit’s decision the counties had approved a plan for 10-day early voting, but were then required to adjust their plans when the decision added seven days. 33 counties took disputed plans to the NCSBE, which has has five board members – two Democrats and three Republicans. They reviewed the counties’ disputed plans, in most cases voting along party lines and only voting in favor of keeping Sunday voting if the county had it in past elections. In the five now-disputed plans the plaintiffs are asking a judge to order the NCSBE to make the following changes:In Guilford County and Forsyth County, the county boards of elections had agreed on their early voting plans and did not take them to the NCSBE for resolution last month. Still, the plaintiffs want the judge to order NCSBE to modify Guilford’s by expanding the early voting locations to include those used heavily used by African American voters in 2012. In Forsyth, they want the NCSBE to reinstate the 2012 Sunday voting locations and hours there and open one voting location on campus at Winston-Salem State University.In Nash, Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties, their plans were resolved by the NCSBE after being disputed within their county board of elections. In the emergency filing, the plaintiffs are asking that the judge order NCSBE to add a voting location at the Braswell Memorial Library in Nash’s Rocky Mount during the first seven days of the early voting period. In Mecklenburg, plaintiffs want to extend early voting on the last Saturday of the early voting period until 5:00 p.m., and in New Hanover County, plaintiffs want to add early voting on Sunday. New Hanover County’s approved early voting plan is the same one used in 2012, with no Sunday early voting.The Friday deadline was requested because the early voting and voter registration deadlines are coming up quickly. The general election is barely more than one month away. Friday, October 14 — Voter registration regular deadline for the November General ElectionThursday, October 20 — Early voting period begins for the November General ElectionTuesday, November 1 — Deadline for absentee ballot request to be receivedSaturday, November 5 — Early voting period ends at 1 PM for the November General ElectionTuesday, November 8 — 2016 Statewide November General Election. Deadline for receipt of absentee ballot (or if clearly postmarked that day).