Last week, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation that seeks to enhance the integrity of the state’s elections.
SB 747 includes numerous changes to state election laws that have been long-supported by election integrity activists. Among them are requirements that election records be retained for 22 months after an election and all mail-in ballots be received by the time polls close on Election Day. The bill additionally bans the acceptance and use of private money in elections and mandates a process for removing noncitizens from voter rolls.
The measure is expected to be considered by the House Committee on Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform in the coming weeks.
During the amendment process, however, the Senate gutted many provisions included in the original version of SB 747, which election integrity activists argue were “vitally important” in closing loopholes “that will allow ballot, voter, and election fraud to occur in North Carolina.”
“As introduced, S.B. 747 was a step in the right direction for election integrity,” Ken Cuccinelli, the chair of the Election Transparency Initiative (ETI), said in a statement. “It’s profoundly disappointing that instead of addressing the bill’s shortcomings, it was gutted by the Senate and regrettably reverses or greatly reduces the effectiveness of a few worthy provisions.”
An ETI press release contends that some of SB 747’s existing deficiencies are centered around a lack of protections for poll observers, as well as no “allowance for citizens to provide affidavits or other evidence to local boards of elections (BOEs) to correct known deficiencies on county voter lists.” The election integrity group further claims the legislation “[d]oes not provide a means for observers or citizens to inspect mail-in ballot envelopes or to reasonably challenge voters who do not live in their counties or the state. “
In order to correct these shortfalls, Cuccinelli is advising North Carolina House Republicans to amend SB 747 to incorporate provisions from other election integrity bills and additional changes he argues give election integrity “the durability and permanence voters deserve.”
Among the recommended bills are HB 770 and HB 772, which would expand access to voted ballots and protect poll worker access, respectively. Other proposed improvements to SB 747 include provisions strengthening list maintenance requirements, requiring same-day voter registrants to cast provisional ballots, and prohibiting the state from sharing non-public DMV and election data with actors such as ERIC.
“At a time when the General Assembly has a veto-proof majority, Republicans should be passing the strongest bill possible,” Cuccinelli told The Federalist. “We call on Speaker Tim Moore and his leadership team, elections committee chairman Grey Mills, and rules chairman Destin Hall to help restore badly needed faith in our elections by immediately making election integrity a top priority.”