New NC Senate elections bill undermines North Carolina voters

RALEIGH – The Republican-controlled NC Senate today unveiled Senate Bill 747, an omnibus elections bill that would create barriers for voters casting an absentee ballot by mail and unnecessarily complicate popular same-day registration, among a variety of other provisions.

Under current 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 been an important safeguard to help ensure voters don’t have their ballot unfairly thrown out because of delays in mail delivery. Notably, current Republican leaders Sen. Phil Berger and now-House Speaker Tim Moore were among those lawmakers who voted in favor of the three-day grace period in 2009.

But the newly unveiled Senate Bill 747 would eliminate the three-day window for receiving absentee ballots, potentially putting thousands of eligible ballots in jeopardy.

Among a variety of other provisions, the bill would require voters using same-day registration to cast a provisional ballot. And it would bar county election boards from accepting private grants to help fill budget shortfalls, while not providing state money to bridge funding gaps.

The Senate’s omnibus comes after Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who aided Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, met with Republican legislators to push her radical anti-voter agenda. One of Mitchell’s chief supporters in North Carolina, Jim Womack, admitted that he “fundamentally disagrees” that it’s a good thing for conservatives if more people vote.

The following is a statement from Bob Phillips, Executive Director of Common Cause North Carolina:

“Our state is fortunate to have a secure and accessible election system. But instead of strengthening our elections, politicians in the legislature are pushing an agenda to create unfair barriers for voters and place unrealistic burdens on election administrators – with no good reason.

Voting absentee by mail is an especially important option for older North Carolinians, people with disabilities, and those who lack transportation. The legislature recognized that when it unanimously voted in 2009 to create the three-day grace period. Closing that window now would hurt voters and could result in lawful ballots being unfairly thrown out.

And the measure would prohibit boards of elections from accepting grants to fill funding gaps. Yet the bill offers no state funds to make up the difference, leaving election administrators without vital resources.

We urge lawmakers to oppose these unnecessary restrictions and reject anti-voter extremism pushed by fringe groups. Instead, legislators should work to build on the successes of our election system and protect everyone’s freedom to vote.”

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.