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Election Boards Across the State Push Back Against Harmful Election Law Changes

Source: Greenville Daily Reflector

A local board of elections is pushing back against controversial election law changes pushed forth by Republican lawmakers.

In a unanimous vote, the Pitt County Board of Elections sent state legislators a letter asking them to consider “unintended consequences” if they adopt new elections laws that govern partisan observers inside polling places, among many other changes.

The five-person Pitt County board, made up of three Democrats and two Republicans, joins dozens of counties that have either sent or are sending letters to state legislators expressing concerns about Senate Bills 747 and 749 and House Bill 772.

According to Cardinal & Pine, a letter sent by 32 members of the Election Boards Association of North Carolina, split evenly among Republicans and Democrats, states that House Bill 772, would allow poll watchers to record voter interactions with election officials; Senate Bill 749, could create elections gridlock and give the General Assembly control over election decisions; and Senate Bill 747, would make it harder to vote by mail.

“House Bill 772 would permit up to 12 partisan observers to ‘move freely around the voting enclosure’ at any time, as well as audio or video record their conversations with poll workers, voter intake paperwork and ballot machines – without capturing images of voters or ballots,” the officials wrote.

“As a practical matter, that level of activity would be disruptive, impossible to supervise, and increase rather than reduce voters’ concerns about secure and secret balloting.”

In addition, election board officials raised flags for voting rights advocates, and voters, as Senate Bill 747, along with the other measures, would bring a substantial change.

Senate Bill 747 would end the three-day grace period for absentee ballots, requiring that all ballots except for those from military and overseas arrive by 7 p.m. on Election Day. 

“If someone mails the ballot by Election Day, or even a few days earlier than Election Day, and their ballot gets there one day after Election Day, even if it’s been correctly filled out, it won’t count,” N.C. Rep. Allen Buansi (D-Orange) told The Daily Tarheel.

The change would result in thousands of ballots being thrown out, and make it harder for millions of voters to cast their ballots, according to the letter.

Reporting by Cardinal & Pine, underscores that the controversial set of bills could completely overhaul elections, disrupt the voting process, and require expensive new measures without providing funding. 

Just in the past few days, Onslow Board of Elections has joined the ever-growing list of local boards of elections, and officials who are urging Republicans to hear the concerns of boards of elections and staff across the state. 

“A majority decided to submit a letter urging legislators to reconsider certain provisions of this legislation,” the Onslow letter read. “We are reaching out to you as county board members with years of practical experience in administering elections. Like you, we are committed to ensuring that North Carolina voters can have confidence in the security and fairness of our elections.”


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