The needs of Beaufort County voters

Published 8:03 pm Monday, October 27, 2014

Early voting is on and the turnout has been steady as county residents take their picks in several local elections: Beaufort County commissioner, sheriff, Clerk of Superior Court, state House and Senate races.

Go out to the Board of Elections in Washington, and it’s apparent that voting is in full swing. All available ground is blanketed with one campaign sign after another. The parking lot is full of vehicles with signs — some magnetic, some sandwich board-types propped up in the beds of trucks — proclaiming this “vote for this candidate,” “vote for that candidate.” On a given day, the parking lot is dotted with chairs, there to let candidates take a breather from their 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift greeting voters. Often, there are tents providing shade for the dedicated party representatives; sometimes, tables offering a slew of brochures. The parking lot at the Board of Elections is a picture-perfect representation of the American electoral way.

Problem is, it’s all in the way.

There are elderly voters in this county. There are those who can’t walk long distances. There are those who are in a hurry — to get in, get out, do their civic duty and vote — and don’t have time to stop and talk to every candidate on their way to vote. Unfortunately, that’s the way it’s set up each morning, as candidates and their supporters snag the parking places closest to the Board of Elections doors. Pretty much every person on their way into the place must run the gauntlet of campaigners and their helpers. With the exception of a few handicapped places up front, every single space in the parking area front and center to the Board of Elections’ front doors seems to be taken, and even those are hard to reach because of the chairs and tents and people milling about.

It’s understandable that candidates want to greet voters and, indeed, ask for their votes. They are doing nothing illegal, as long as they stay 50 feet away from the front door of the Elections office. There are no county guidelines that would prevent candidates and their supporters from doing exactly as their doing.

Courtesy to their potential constituents, however, could prevent it. Putting the needs of Beaufort County voters over their own might, too.