2 NC GOP Elections Board Members Resign In Protest Over Mail Ballot Changes
The two Republican members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections resigned in protest Wednesday night, with one member writing that he felt misled about recent changes to absentee mail ballots the board approved.
The resignations come as hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are voting by mail and President Trump is increasingly casting doubts about the validity of mail-in ballots.
The state elections board on Tuesday approved a settlement stemming from a lawsuit by the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans. The Alliance said the state’s rules on mail-in voting were an undue burden to voters during the coronavirus pandemic.
The settlement must be approved by the court.
In the settlement, the elections board agreed to make it easier for voters to correct problems with their absentee ballots. When there is a problem with a ballot, it won’t be labeled as “spoiled.” A spoiled ballot would require a voter to complete a new mail ballot.
Under the agreement, voters can correct problems by returning an affidavit sent to them by their local county board of elections.
The problems include things like a voter signing the ballot in the wrong place, the witness not signing, or the witness signing on the wrong line.
The settlement would also extend the date that county elections board will accept mail ballots to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 if the ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day. The current cutoff for mail ballots to count is that they arrive three days after Election Day, which is Nov. 3.
Republican legislative leaders blasted the proposed settlement.
State Sen. Ralph Hise said Democrats were rewriting election laws while the election was taking place, and he said the state is “witnessing a slow-motion mugging of North Carolina's election integrity."
In his resignation letter, Ken Raymond wrote that “it is impossible to have true bipartisanship when both sides of the political aisle do not have the important and vital information needed to make the right decisions.”
He said that attorneys from Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein’s office “did not advise us of the fact that a lot of the concessions made in the settlement have already been denied in a prior case by a federal judge and another case by a state court three-judge panel.”
David Black, meanwhile, said he was misled that voters would be able to fix problems with their mail ballots with an affidavit, rather than having to show a valid witness signature.
“It was not my understanding that the cure would simply mean an affidavit, or cure document, would be sent to the voter for a confirmation that this ballot was their own,” Black wrote in his resignation letter.
“No further information but a signature by the voter affirming the ballot was theirs would be required. My understanding was the witness requirement would stay as it is currently with the exception that only one witness signature would be required. Not only was I taken aback by this, but I am sure many county directors will be, too.”
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