North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #8 – 22 March 2021
See whole report, with summary and listing of bills being tracked, at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #8, 22 Mar 21
The inevitable has finally happened. North Carolina Republican legislators have jumped on board the voter suppression train. Senate Bill 326, misleadingly titled the Election Integrity Act, is a measure that would restrict voting by absentee ballot in a variety of ways. In short, it is a voter suppression bill. Significantly, the restrictions do not apply to military or overseas voters.
The bill would prohibit collecting absentee ballots after 5 pm on election day or the date of the primary no matter when they are mailed. Under current law, absentee ballots can be collected up to three days after election day provided they are postmarked on or before election day. Last year the State Board of Elections accepted a settlement that allowed ballots to be collected up to 12 days after election day because of an increased number of ballots due to the pandemic and problems with the post office. No more of that if this bill becomes law.
This bill stipulates that eligible voters must complete their request form for an absentee ballot by 5 pm on the Tuesday two weeks before the day voting is to take place. They must return their ballot inside a signed envelope provided by the board of elections along with a photocopy of their accepted photo ID. The bill allocates 5 million dollars for the state to provide photo ID to those who have none. Present law does not require a voter to submit photo ID with their absentee ballot.
If a voter becomes sick or disabled after the two-week deadline and needs an absentee ballot, it becomes even more complicated. It would be possible to obtain an absentee ballot if the voter, a relative, or a guardian goes in person to the board of elections to obtain one until 5 pm the day before in-person voting is scheduled. The ballot and accompanying documents must be returned to the board of elections by 5 pm on the date of in-person voting.
Finally, the bill would prohibit boards of elections from accepting private donations to hire temporary employees to help with processing the ballots, something 30 North Carolina counties needed to do in 2020.
This bill is totally unnecessary and, if passed, we will need to encourage a veto.
See whole report at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #8, 22 Mar 21.