The proposal by the Bladen County Board of Elections, which was mapped out before crowds in Elizabethtown and Bladenboro this week, certainly offers plenty of room for debate.
It was obvious, and pretty predictable, that most folks who showed up to the public meetings were against the proposal. But it seems some of their reasoning is a bit flawed.
Claims that the proposal was being made by a board swayed by Republican efforts to make things challenging for black residents to vote is about as far-fetched as it gets, but is an obvious and common knee-jerk reaction by Democrats who were present. So is an expectation that a registered voter should be able to vote at either polling place regardless of the fact that it’s not their “home” precinct — a practice that is too common by folks who are too lazy, and gums up the entire process.
Every bit of that is pure hooey and conspiracy theory mumbo-jumbo. Quite frankly, it’s a tired and far too repetitive argument that should be stopped.
We are sure the Board of Elections has spent quite a bit of time looking over the benefits and ramifications of this proposal. We are also sure its members would not have gone forward with the proposal if it weren’t valid and offer some kind of worthwhile positives for the county looking at the big picture.
While creating a relatively major change for some voters, having to travel to a new polling place is hardly reason to keep someone from casting a ballot — especially when there are so many opportunities to accept a ride to the ballot box when necessary.
We feel like the board must be assured that merging the polling precincts in both Elizabethtown and Bladenboro must have enough merit, especially in the area of cost savings and efficiency, that it would benefit the entire process.
There is no crystal ball available for us to know which direction the Board of Elections will choose to go now that they have heard from a small portion of the area’s registered voters. What we do know is that the segment they heard from was more interested in making the entire proposal something racist, rather than looking at it through the glasses of the BOE’s three-person board.
We honestly don’t have a horse in this race, so we have to rely on the hopes that what will be will be best for all concerned — and for all the right reasons.