Friday, June 02, 2023

The New GOP Voting Law: Gumming the Works, Slowing the Process


The main takeaways from S747, "Election Law Changes":

Gone: the 3-day "grace period" for getting your mail-in ballot to count. Under Ralph Hise's new proposed law, if your ballot isn't in the hands of your local Board of Elections office by the evening of Election Day, it'll get tossed.

The new law will make same-day-registrants vote a provisional ballot, a more time-consuming process that will slow up lines to vote.

The proposed new law will require local elections boards to acquire and use signature verification software for absentee ballots. It would require signature verifications for mail-in ballots — in addition to the current rules that also require two witnesses. We're seeking clarification if signature verification is only for mail-in absentee ballots or would also include those who are voting during early voting (which is also technically "absentee" voting). Since a voter now has to present ID at the time of voting, and they are directly signing their Authorization to Vote form upon check-in, why would signature verification be required as an added step? But it would be very much "on brand" for the Republicans to gum up the works further and sow confusion.

Signature verification for absentee balloting is probably of some concern for elderly voters, who tend disproportionately to favor absentee-by-mail and whose handwriting undergoes major changes through aging.

One major change that will surely be of use to election deniers: any registered voter in a county can now challenge any other voter. They do not have to be from the challenged voter's precinct.

Hise and the boys continue to cry "voter fraud" and "election integrity" as reasons for making voting harder. Voter fraud is rare; a 2016 audit by North Carolina officials found just two cases of voter impersonation in that year’s elections, out of 4.8 million ballots cast. When voter fraud has been a major issue in North Carolina, ironically, it's been voter fraud by Republicans: In 2018 North Carolina had to re-do a Congressional election because a campaign consultant for the Republican candidate was accused of submitting hundreds of fraudulent mail-in ballots. McCrae Dowless, the accused fixer, died last year while awaiting trial.

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