Common Cause NC applauds NC House for passing bipartisan bill to prepare state for elections amid COVID-19

RALEIGH – Today on a vote of 116-3, the NC House of Representatives approved House Bill 1169, a measure incorporating a variety of key recommendations from election administrators and democracy advocates to make voting safer and more accessible amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill now goes to the NC Senate for consideration.

Primary sponsors of House Bill 1169 include Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover) and Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), who are both co-chairs of the NC House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law, along with committee members Rep. Allison Dahle (D-Wake) and Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford). In all, there are 41 bipartisan sponsors of the House bill.

Among the proposals in House Bill 1169:

  • Reduces the absentee ballot witness requirement from two to one
  • Allows voters to submit an absentee ballot request form via email, online portal, fax, mail or in person (currently, NC voters can submit an absentee ballot request form only by mail or in person)
  • Gives counties greater flexibility in where they assign poll workers, better allowing them to address possible poll worker shortages at precincts
  • Allocates state matching funds to take advantage of federal CARES Act and HAVA money
  • Allocates funds to counties to prepare for elections amid COVID-19, including the purchasing of personal protective equipment for use at polling places and increasing recruitment and compensation of poll workers
  • Allocates funds for election security and continuity of operations in case of disaster

“While not perfect and more could be done, this bill is a significant and positive step toward ensuring every North Carolina voter is able to safely and securely cast a ballot in this year’s elections,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC. “We applaud the state House for this bipartisan effort. And we encourage the Senate to likewise work across the aisle to pass House Bill 1169 and prepare our state to conduct elections that are safe, accessible and fair for all.”

Common Cause NC is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy.

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