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Leaked Audio: Mark Robinson Says Only Some People Should Be Allowed to Vote Early, Calls 17-Day Early Voting Period ‘Outrageous’

Source: CBS 17

At this point, North Carolinians should be used to Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the concerns voters have, whether the topic at hand is reproductive rights, social issues, or most recently, early voting.

In-person early voting began on Feb. 15 in North Carolina and like most other candidates running for office, Robinson encouraged his supporters to find their polling places and make sure they vote early – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, as is often the case with Robinson, there’s documented proof of him saying the complete opposite. 

CBS 17 obtained an audio clip earlier this month from a December 2023 gubernatorial campaign event in Wake County where the lieutenant governor railed against early voting, saying the amount of time North Carolinians have to vote is “outrageous.” Even worse, he suggested that early voting should only be available to certain people.

In the audio clip, Robinson told supporters there should be “one day to vote. Early voting should be left to those who desperately need it: the infirmed, the ill, the handicapped.”

Robinson continued, explaining how voting should be done – and taking a swipe at Taylor Swift, who he calls “Trailer Shift” for some reason.

“You know how you do it? You get up and you go vote. Same way you got up and went, stood in line for 15-and-a-half hours for Trailer Shift concert tickets, the same way you could stand in that line,” he said.

Ignoring the nonsensical nickname and the fact that almost no one in America has physically waited in line for concert tickets since the late 1990s, his belief that people should stand in line “for 15-and-a-half hours” to vote instead of having the opportunity to spend five minutes waiting to vote early at a time most convenient to the voter, is appalling.

North Carolina has a 17-day in-person early voting period, as well as the option to vote by mail (those ballots were sent out beginning on Jan. 19).

Nationally, Republicans have been pushing their supporters to vote early even as legislators in conservative states are proposing and passing laws intended to make voting more difficult, especially for minorities and young voters. The Republican National Committee has a “Bank Your Vote” initiative encouraging people to vote early – because it saves campaigns time and money by ensuring that they don’t have to reach out to voters who have already voted.

Republican State House Speaker Tim Moore, who himself is running for U.S. House in a district reconfigured specifically for him, agreed with Robinson’s comments about voters having too long to vote.

“I would think that one week of early voting should be sufficient. I like early voting. I like making it easier to vote. But, I think it’s just too long at three weeks. It adds a lot of cost,” he said.

Last spring when state Republicans were writing new legislation to tighten the state’s election laws, Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) told CBS 17 that they talked about shortening the early voting period but didn’t think they would be able to do it.

“I personally don’t believe with the federal court decisions that there’s a path for reducing the early voting period even though I think it’s a real challenge for rural areas,” Hise said at the time.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who is running for governor on the Democratic side and will likely be taking on Robinson this fall, told CBS 17 he disagreed with the NCGOP’s stance on early voting.

“The lieutenant governor and the speaker think that voters should have fewer days of opportunity to cast their ballots is wrong-headed. As governor, I would certainly veto any such efforts,” Stein said outside of Raleigh’s Chavis Park, where he voted early. “You never know what Election Day will hold. Your car may break down or, like what was up in New York [earlier this month], a huge snowstorm could come.”

Robinson’s campaign did not respond to CBS 17’s request for comment on his statement about early voting or whether he would pursue any changes if elected governor.

In-person early voting runs through March 2. The primary is on March 5. Click here for more information on voting in North Carolina.


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