We were confused, when we walked up to an early-voting site on Sunday and found the building closed.
I’d voted just two days earlier at UNCG’s new gargantuan recreation center on Gate City Boulevard, picking it among the other sites because I correctly figured the line would be short and it’d be easy to get in and out from downtown Greensboro. But when I came back two days later to bring a friend who hadn’t cast his ballot yet, the doors were locked.
We’d been nearby, grabbing snacks at a CVS before going on a hike at Hanging Rock, when my friend mentioned he hadn’t voted yet and wasn’t sure when he’d be able to, so I suggested we swing by quickly before we headed out of town. Standing at the entrance to the rec center, we peered into the darkened building as two women complained they’d come to vote as well and couldn’t figure out why the building was closed.
I tried pulling up the early voting schedule on my phone from the Guilford County Board of Elections’ website but couldn’t get it to load.
The explanation turned out to be incredibly simple — Sunday early voting didn’t begin until 11 a.m., despite the polls opening hours earlier for the preceding days.
It is not that complicated to look up the early voting schedule online, so long as the website loads and you have good internet or available data and a smartphone. But with an early voting schedule with changing hours and locations, it can be a challenge to keep track of the specifics.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan accidentally tweeted the wrong hours for a Saturday schedule. I’m a journalist who covered the board of elections meeting where the schedule was devised, but even I needed a refresher on whether additional sites opened after seven or 10 days.
The whole point of early voting is to make it easier for people to be able to vote. It’d help to make Election Day a national holiday as well — it’s kind of ridiculous that it isn’t, actually — but there’s one small step we could take locally to avoid additional confusion.
Post the damn hours and schedule outside every early voting site.
We realized we were too early after I called a colleague who was able to pull up the schedule. I informed the two strangers, who seemed determined enough to vote later, and after our hike I brought my friend back to UNCG’s rec center and he voted with ease.
But why not take the simple step of printing out the hours of the early-voting sites and taping them up by the doors?