LWVNC and several individual league members joined in a lawsuit filed Friday, May 22, 2020. This lawsuit, which addresses both absentee ballot and in-person voting concerns, seeks to ensure that voters can cast their ballots without risking their personal health in the midst of a pandemic. The underlying issues are broad and comprehensive. We know you are ready to work to make the 2020 election safe and secure. Whether through this lawsuit, or in other advocacy, we need to seek these changes:
- Expanded ability to register new voters when past practices are limited by safer-at-home orders and cancelled public events.
- Expanded options to make a request to receive an absentee-by-mail ballot by fax, email and online application.
- Modifications to the Ballot Container Return process to make submitting the completed ballot safer by removing the witness requirement and allowing contactless drop box delivery.
- Improved in-person voting options through safer polling locations.
Also on Friday, a bi-partisan elections bill was submitted in the NC House, HB1169. This bill does make some modest efforts to address some of these problems, but also raises some troubling issues. HB1169 allows some expansion of absentee request applications, flexibility for assigning precinct workers within the county, and eliminates one required witness. The bill also provides the matching state funds required to access existing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Help American Vote Act (HAVA) federal funds. However, it reintroduces a requirement that voters show an approved photo ID, this time adding IDs that are issued by a government public assistance agency. This is very troubling since the temporary injunction issued by the federal court could be overturned.
The League of Women Voters has fought for many years against requiring voters to show an ID when voting. We are concerned that the legislature is using the COVID-19 crisis to bring it back. We cannot, and we should not, be willing to trade the concerns of one group of voters with another. We stand for improved access to voting for all voters.
There is a comment portal for you to register your concerns about HB 1169: https://www.ncleg.gov/RequestForComments/36. Here are some talking points:
- Speak out against photo ID in 2020.
- Advocate for more voter registration opportunities through extending the 25-day limit and allowing online voter registration for other agency clients.
- Give flexibility back to the counties to allow early voting sites to vary hours of operation.
- HAVA IDs should be acceptable for use in the absentee ballot request application.
- Require the one-witness requirement be clearly indicated on the Absentee Ballot Container Envelope.
- Allow the option of contactless drop box returns for Absentee Ballot Container Envelopes.
Lastly, on Wednesday, May 27, to coincide with the initial hearing of HB 1169, LWVNC will be joining with Democracy NC to co-sponsor Protect Our Vote NC Virtual Day of Action. Look for more information on our social media platforms.
Please contact Marian Lewin at Lewin [at] lwvnc.org with questions.
Thank you for your involvement and your continued efforts to ensure voting rights for every citizen.