RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina Republicans filed legislation Thursday to implement new regulations ahead of the 2024 election, including moving up the deadline for mail-in ballots to Election Day.
The bill would eliminate the three-day grace period for those ballots. Under current law, mail-in ballots are counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day and arrive at the county elections office within three days of the election.
“We’ve heard from local parties, former board of election members we’ve talked to that we appointed to the board of elections, about the challenges that we see within the election process, and quite frankly the challenges with people’s confidence in the election process,” said Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell).
The newly filed bill would make 7:30 p.m. on Election Day the deadline.
Republicans have attempted to make that change in previous legislative sessions, but Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has vetoed those bills. Now, Republicans have a supermajority in the legislature and could implement new election laws despite objections by Cooper and other Democrats.
Sen. Hise acknowledged Thursday that he and other Republican lawmakers met with attorney Cleta Mitchell, who was one of the people involved in former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Mitchell chairs the Election Integrity Network. Sen. Hise said lawmakers also met with Jim Womack, who leads the group’s North Carolina chapter.
Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said she did not have a direct role in writing the legislation.
“And here they go with advice from election deniers and fraud perpetrators. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t about protecting elections. It’s about rigging them to help Republicans,” Gov. Cooper tweeted.
Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said legislative committees are expected to take up the bill next week.
On Facebook, NC Attorney General Josh Stein said the legislation “must be defeated.”
In full, Stein’s post said, “BREAKING: We are in a fight for our freedoms in North Carolina. Republicans in the General Assembly want to make it harder for some North Carolinians to exercise their fundamental right to vote & have their voice heard. This legislation must be defeated. I will keep fighting to defend your right to vote & protect our democracy.
Another key change in the bill would affect people who register and vote on the same day during the early-voting period. Under the bill, those voters would have to cast provisional ballots, which are set aside by election officials as they work to verify a voter’s eligibility.
According to a summary by Republicans in the state Senate the bill would also make the following changes:
- Require the clerk of superior court to notify the NCSBE of individuals disqualified from jury duty because they aren’t U.S. citizens. The NCSBE will review the report and have the county boards of elections eliminate any noncitizens from North Carolina’s voter rolls.
- Permit public inspection of absentee ballots at the weekly county boards of elections meetings authorized through Election Day.
- Increase the period of time that election records are retained and preserved to 22 months to mirror existing federal legal requirements.
- Require precinct officials to log the name of any person that is rendering assistance to a voter.
- Voters who utilize same-day registration at an early, in-person voting site will be required to cast a provisional ballot. The ballot will only be accepted if the voter’s address can be verified using the regular mailing confirmation and voter verification process that applies to all new voters before polls close on Election Day.
- The NCSBE will create and implement a two-factor authentication process for absentee ballots cast by mail, and county boards of elections will use signature verification software to check the signatures of voters using absentee ballots.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.