Thursday evening’s “Souls to the Polls” meeting of the Anson County Board of Elections ended with a 2-1 vote against opening Sunday voting.
The meeting reexamined the issue after a previous unanimous vote by the board against Sunday voting. After listening to citizen input from both Anson and surrounding counties, Board of Elections chairman James Paxton said he rethought his position, wanting to ensure that as many people as possible had the chance to vote.
The division between those for or against Sunday voting was largely due to religious reasons regarding having poll workers work on a day they may hold as their Sabbath. One attendee, Dan Moody, chair of the Richmond County Republican Party, said he was against Sunday voting. “’Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,’” Moody said, quoting Matthew 22:21. “It’s a nice opportunity but you forget one thing: if you have Sunday workers there, now they’re required to be there.” Moody was concerned that, with other days available for voting, Sunday voting may require workers to work on what may be a sacred day for them.
Curtis Williams, pastor of Brown Creek Baptist Church, was also against Sunday voting, concerned that it was an opportunity for churches to break the tax law and that it offered an opportunity to vote for people who support measures he considers evil. “We live in a nation today that Isaiah says is a time we’ll call good ‘evil’ and evil ‘good’,” he said, offering abortion and homosexuality as examples. “It would be a slap to the face of God. It would be a horrible smear to commit this atrocity on the Lord’s Day.”
Barbara Thomas, speaking on behalf of Ebenezer Baptist, disagreed. “I’ve heard here that Sunday is the Lord’s Day but to me, every day is the Lord’s Day,” she said.
A representative from Congressman Larry Kissell’s office, Jared Hall, also spoke in favor of allowing voting on Sunday. “The more opportunities people have, the better,” he said. “It’s a right and people have the right to exercise that right.”
Michael McLeod was also hopeful for Sunday voting. “It’s a great opportunity for African-Americans in rural sections to vote,” he said, arguing that it would give many elderly African-Americans a better chance to vote since they’d already be out at church.
After a closed executive session, the board came back into open session and held the vote. Judy Little motioned to keep the extended hours the board approved at its last meeting and add a Saturday “to give everybody the opportunity to vote.” Little’s motion passed unanimously.
Paxton had also motioned to implement Sunday voting, but the motion died after lack of a second. Once Sunday voting was voted down, the room erupted with varied responses.
Anson County Commissioner and Democratic Party Chair Vancine Sturdivant left the meeting before it adjourned, but on her way out, said, “It is sad what happened here. Ever since 2008, I’ve seen people go against early voting and other issues, because of who the president is, but when you ask them, they won’t give a reason.”
After some attendees asked if there was a possibility of reconsideration, Paxton responded that there is an appeal process that can take place with the State Board of Elections.