NC election bills unlikely to become laws after Senate votes

Jun 16, 2021, 4:56 PM | Updated: 7:52 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Senate Republicans pushed a trio of election measures through their chamber on Wednesday, including one that would prohibit counting mail-in absentee ballots that aren’t received by local officials by Election Day.

But unlike other GOP-led legislatures in battleground states that have passed voting restrictions this year, North Carolina has a Democratic governor who could veto the measures, leaving Republicans powerless to override Gov. Roy Cooper if Democrats continue to stay united in opposition. The measures passed the Senate on a party-line vote and now go to the House, where Republicans also have been weighing absentee changes.

Current law allows ballot envelopes postmarked by the day of the election to count if received within a three-day grace period. Although that idea was backed unanimously in separate legislation a dozen years ago by the legislature, Republicans now say the wait for ballots to trickle in delays the finality of results, and moving up the deadline will help lead to earlier outcomes the public wants.

“The bill will build confidence in our election system,” Sen. Warren Daniel, a Burke County Republican and bill sponsor said during the debate. “Everyone saw how long it took North Carolina to declare winners in the (2020) presidential election and our U.S. Senate election. And this should help alleviate those concerns.”

Senate Democrats and their allies this week called the absentee ballot bill and the other two measures a signal by GOP legislators to the Republican base that they are responding to unfounded allegations made by former President Donald Trump and allies that question the presidential election results.

Scores of state election bills have been introduced by Republicans this year, and efforts in Georgia and Texas to pass some have led to partisan conflict.

“All the circumstances show that there was no issue with the integrity of the North Carolina election,” Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue of Wake County said Tuesday at a news conference. “The Republican playbook calls for an allegation that there was not integrity in the 2020 election.”

About 30 states already don’t accept absentee ballots that are received after Election Day. The GOP proposal was amended Wednesday to set the deadline for 7:30 p.m. of the day of the general or primary election — when voting precincts close — rather than 5 p.m., as previously proposed. But the bill still passed on the same party-line vote.

Senate Republicans also approved by similar margins a measure that would bar election boards and county commissioners from accepting private money to run elections, and a bill to allow potential voters to file registration forms online at the State Board of Elections.

Republican sponsors of bills have tried to avoid the national allegations during debate, arguing instead that Democrats actually voted Wednesday against bills that would expand voting access and trust. Trump narrowly won North Carolina’s electoral votes last fall amid an election with record turnout and few voting problems.

“This bill is not about a national narrative,” Daniel said.

But GOP legislators remain angry about a legal settlement reached between the Democratic-controlled State Board of Elections and a union-affiliated group that extended the grace period for mail-in ballots to nine days for 2020 only due to the pandemic and postal delays. Daniel said the absentee ballot bill sends a message to Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat whose office was involved in the settlement.

Democrats said Republicans want to get rid of the grace period all together because Democrats turned in twice as many absentee ballots than Republicans in the 2020 general elections during the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans traditionally have used the method most.

“So now that lots of Democrats use mail-in ballots, they’re a problem?” asked Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Mecklenburg County Democrat. “That’s not a good reason or a fair reason to change election law and throw out ballots.”

More than 11,600 ballots received during the first three days after the 2020 Election Day were lawfully counted. Republicans counter that the number of mail-in ballots likely will be much less in 2022, as voters have over a year to learn about the new deadline. Final results still won’t get finalized until after county and state canvasses.

Republicans want to bar private donations to run elections because they say the money can leave the perception of partisan influence. But critics say the donations can make up for underfunding by government. The state and nearly all counties received over $4.6 million combined last year to buy voting pens, send mailers and pay election workers bonuses.

The online voter registration bill also describes the legislature’s intent to help voters obtain photo identification. A 2018 law implementing a voter ID mandate was opposed by most legislative Democrats and remains blocked in litigation.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades speaks during the 9th Environment for Europe Ministerial Confe...
Associated Press

UN officials: Energy crisis shouldn’t delay emissions slash

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A switch back to coal and other fossil fuels by several countries to weather an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine shouldn’t compromise efforts to curb greenhouse emissions, United Nations officials said Wednesday. Sonja Leighton-Kone, a senior official with the United Nations Environment Program said lending a sympathetic ear […]
9 hours ago
FILE - This aerial photo shows part of the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set in Santa Fe, N.M., on Satur...
Associated Press

‘Rust’ cinematographer lawsuit settled, filming to resume

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of a cinematographer shot and killed by Alec Baldwin on the set of the film “Rust” has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the actor and the movie’s producers, and production will resume on the project in January. “We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our […]
9 hours ago
FILE - A 10-point white-tailed deer walks through the woods in Freeport, Maine, on Nov. 10, 2015. W...
Associated Press

‘Forever chemicals’ in deer, fish challenge hunters, tourism

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Wildlife agencies in the U.S. are finding elevated levels of a class of toxic chemicals in game animals such as deer — and that’s prompting health advisories in some places where hunting and fishing are ways of life and key pieces of the economy. Authorities have detected the high levels of […]
9 hours ago
Geneva, Fla., resident Joe Shaw, top, navigates his flooded street, Whitcomb Drive, Tuesday, Oct. 4...
Associated Press

Florida’s island dwellers digging out from Ian’s destruction

ST. JAMES CITY, Fla. (AP) — Following Hurricane Ian’s destruction, many residents on one Florida island have stayed put for days without electricity and other resources while hoping the lone bridge to the mainland is repaired. Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, has been largely cut off from the outside world […]
9 hours ago
FILE - People stand on the destroyed bridge to Pine Island as they view the damage in the aftermath...
Associated Press

Biden to focus on hurricane victims in Florida, not politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will visit hurricane-ravaged Florida with a pledge that federal, state and local governments will work as one to help rebuild homes, businesses and lives — putting politics on mute for now to focus on those in need. Hurricane Ian has resulted in at least 84 people confirmed dead, including […]
9 hours ago
Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor Tim Michels speaks during a campaign stop at a bar on T...
Associated Press

In Wisconsin, Michels’ shift on abortion isn’t 1st reversal

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Tim Michels was talking to a roomful of party activists in early September when he fielded a question about his position on abortion. Michels vowed he would never change, and said he was “winning” his race against Democratic Gov. Tim Evers precisely because people saw him as “a man of […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
NC election bills unlikely to become laws after Senate votes