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Politics
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GOP Aims To Stop Harvesting Of Absentee Ballot Requests

State Rep. David Lewis
N.C. General Assembly

State. Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County has amended a bill to stop political operatives from harvesting absentee mail ballot request forms.

Lewis’s substitute bill would require absentee mail ballot request forms to be completed by the voter, near relative or guardian. It would also prohibit outside groups from collecting mail ballot request forms.

The N.C. Board of Elections in February ordered a new election in state’s 9th Congressional District after investigators said a Bladen County political operative illegally collected completed mail ballots on behalf of Republican Mark Harris.

While it’s illegal to collect, or harvest, absentee mail ballots, it’s legal to encourage people to fill out mail ballot request forms, and for third parties to collect as many as they can. In Bladen County, groups working for Democratic and Republican candidates turned in mail ballot request forms by the dozens.

Other changes include:

Making election specific ballot request forms.

Requiring the forms to be filled out by the voter, near relative or legal guardian.

Requiring the request form to have either a photo ID, an N.C. driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number if the voter doesn’t have an ID or access to photo copying equipment.

Prohibiting the sale and purchase of completed absentee request forms and ballots. It would also prohibit paying people based on how many ballot request forms they turn into the board of elections.

Creating a pilot program for prepaid postage on absentee ballots.

Restoring early voting on the final Saturday before election day.