Common Cause NC applauds Governor Cooper for vetoing anti-voter Senate Bill 747
RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper today vetoed Senate Bill 747, a harmful bill that would impose barriers to casting a ballot in North Carolina. If allowed to become law, the bill’s provisions could disenfranchise thousands of voters who rely on absentee voting by mail. The governor’s veto comes after the legislature passed the controversial bill on a party-line vote last week.
“Senate Bill 747 is filled with a number of bad ideas that would undermine North Carolinians’ freedom to vote,” said Bob Phillips, Executive Director of Common Cause North Carolina. “We applaud Governor Cooper for vetoing this unnecessary and damaging bill. We call on the legislature to uphold this veto and stop attacking our voting rights.”
Among the provisions in Senate Bill 747 is the elimination of a three-day grace period for receiving absentee ballots by mail, potentially jeopardizing the votes of thousands of North Carolinians.
Under a longstanding law adopted with unanimous support by the legislature in 2009, absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day can be accepted by county boards of elections up to three days after Election Day.
That three-day grace period has helped ensure voters don’t have their ballot thrown out because of delays or disruptions in mail delivery. Notably, current Republican leaders Sen. Phil Berger and now-House Speaker Tim Moore were among the lawmakers who voted in favor of the three-day grace period in 2009.
But Senate Bill 747 would demolish that important safeguard. Instead, absentee ballots would need to be received by county boards of elections by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, invalidating votes that arrive via mail after that time – even if they are postmarked by Election Day.
“Dismantling the three-day grace period would especially hurt older voters, people with disabilities, rural voters and others who rely on mail-in absentee voting as a lifeline for exercising their freedom to vote,” Phillips said. “North Carolina voters who follow well-established rules and cast their ballot on or before Election Day shouldn’t have their vote thrown away because of a delay in mail delivery that’s no fault of their own.”
On top of the tighter deadline for mail-in ballots, Senate Bill 747 takes steps to make North Carolina’s already stringent mail-in ballot verification process even more onerous. North Carolina voters currently must have two witnesses or a notary sign their mail-in ballot and submit a copy of a valid voter ID or an exception form. By initiating a 10-county pilot program for computerized “signature verification” for mail-in ballots in the 2024 primary election, the bill sponsors have indicated that they intend to make that process even more difficult going forward, making North Carolina’s verification process perhaps the most onerous in the nation.
Common Cause North Carolina is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.