'This is not a game': North Carolina Senate discusses election reform bill

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Thursday, June 15, 2023
NC Senate discusses election reform bill
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A new senate bill making its way through the legislature would reshape election law in North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new senate bill making its way through the legislature would reshape election law in North Carolina.

SB747, introduced last week and making its way through committees this week, is an omnibus bill that would shift the deadline for mail-in and absentee ballots from three days after election day to 7:30 p.m. on election day. It would also require new signature verification -- using software to verify a person's signature to that on record -- and would change the rules for people who register to vote on election day, making their ballots provisional.

Opponents of the bill say it will prolong an unsavory pattern of voter suppression in the state.

"To our North Carolina lawmakers: this is not a game. Your unchecked power is a remnant of Jim Crow that disproportionately silences black voters and manipulates voting to lock in your own power in perpetuity," said Cassandra Stokes of the NC Black Alliance.

Despite the GOP's recent success in North Carolina, supporters of the legislation say the bill isn't about that.

"They think that if they shore up some of these loopholes we have in the current law, tighten up election administration, that instills more confidence in the public and helps them believe that their vote actually has a meaning," said Andy Jackson of the John Locke Foundation.

While Governor Cooper has vetoed similar legislation in the past -- including an effort to move up the deadline for mail-in ballots -- Jackson says the North Carolina GOP feels emboldened.

"There are supermajorities in both chambers," Jackson said. "So I'm pretty sure Republicans have probably had discussions among themselves before they even put this bill up. And it's going to override the veto in all likelihood."

Common Cause North Carolina opposes the bill and says it will make it more difficult to vote -- a burden that will be felt more acutely by older voters, low-income people, and voters of color.

"It goes back to what someone named Paul Weyrich said back in the 1980s, which is 'Lots of people talk about getting everyone to vote, but I don't want everyone to vote. I want the people who agree with me to vote.'"