North Carolina's GOP governor: "We didn't shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar"

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defends his state's recent and controversial changes to voting rights

Published November 20, 2013 9:00PM (EST)

Pat McCrory      (Reuters/Chris Keane)
Pat McCrory (Reuters/Chris Keane)

Speaking with MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Wednesday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory defended the recent changes to his state's early voting policy, saying that he and fellow GOP lawmakers did not shorten the early voting period but rather "compacted the calendar."

"First of all, we didn't shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar," McCrory said to Todd. "But we're going to have the same hours in which polls are open in early voting, and we're going to have more polls available. So it's going to be almost identical. It's just the schedule has changed. The critics are kind of using that line when, in fact, the legislation does not shorten the hours for early voting."

McCrory is right in a technical sense; the aggregate number of voting hours available is unaffected by the law. But this provision was inserted by Democrats, and what's more has nothing to do with the seven full days of early voting that the law removed — or the law's banning of pre- and same-day registration for voters.

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Studies have shown that voter restrictions tend to disproportionately impact women, minorities and low-income voters -- demographics that tend to swing Democratic.

In September, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against North Carolina, charging that the law intentionally discriminated against minority voters.

McCrory insisted in his interview on Wednesday that there was nothing political about the law.

A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School found that early voting has been popular in North Carolina. At least 32 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have laws that allow individuals to vote early and in person without an excuse, according to the Brennan Center. North Carolina is one of the nine states with the highest rates of participation.

Michael Dickerson, director of elections for Mecklenburg County, N.C., said the early voting period reduced the rush of people on the evening of Election Day. Rosemary Blizzard, the board of elections director for Wayne County, said there is more “time to control things" during early voting, and this "helps to make sure that everyone who is entitled to a ballot gets a ballot. It's just harder to do that on Election Day."

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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Chuck Todd Msnbc North Carolina Pat Mccrory Voter Id Voting Rights