Early voting begins Thursday in Mecklenburg County and across North Carolina. Because of a federal appeals court decision, it's an earlier start this year than Republican lawmakers wanted.
Early voting cuts were part of a 2013 election overhaul the appeals judges described as "the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow."
The judges ruled in July that Republican lawmakers passed the changes with discriminatory intent. That ruling restored the early voting period to what it was during the last presidential election: 17 days.
Compared to that election, early voting hours will increase 16 percent across North Carolina, according to state data. The exact numbers vary county to county, with Mecklenburg's hours only increasing about 1 percent. Some attorneys in the voting case are concerned that won't be enough, since the Charlotte area has been one of the fastest growing in the country.