With the completion of two key veto overrides, Republicans in the state legislature have taken important steps to improve election security and administration in North Carolina.
One important reform is that state and local election boards will now be evenly balanced between the two major political parties. Never again will one political party control election administration in North Carolina. This move should inspire confidence in our elections and avoid the last minute “changing of the rules” in the middle of the game, like North Carolina saw in 2020.
That year saw Gov. Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein and the Democrat-controlled State Board of Elections colluding with the “opposing” side of a lawsuit funded by national Democrats and agreeing to a consent order that rewrote North Carolina’s election procedures. The maneuver undid legislation passed by a near-unanimous General Assembly and signed into law by the governor.
That arrangement permitted anonymous absentee ballot drop boxes and subverted requirements for witnesses to be identified on absentee ballots. It also delayed absentee ballot deadlines, creating a system ripe for ballot harvesting. Evenly divided election boards will prevent this in the future and anyone who takes election security and integrity seriously should applaud this move.
A separate law will also improve accuracy and election security in North Carolina. Mail-in ballots will have to be received by the county board of elections by 7:30 pm on Election Day. As noted by the John Locke Foundation, unreliable postmarking procedures made the previous three-day grace period unworkable (which does not apply to military and overseas ballots).
The new legislation will also prevent state and county election boards from accepting any private monetary donations, ie “Zuck Bucks,” to assist in administering elections.
Another reform addresses same-day registrants who register and cast ballots during the in-person voting period. They will now use a “retrievable ballot” that can be discarded if the county board of elections cannot verify their address and the voter declines to provide proper documentation. This important change provides equal protection to all voters and requires all voters to have their addresses verified before their ballots will be counted.
Finally, rules for official poll observers have been updated and clarified and audit procedures improved.
While no election system is perfect, these changes combined with the implementation of photo voter identification should give North Carolinians of all political stripes confidence in casting ballots in the Tar Heel state.
It is worth noting some things are not changing. North Carolina will continue to make voting extremely easy and among the most accessible in America. Any voter can vote via mail up to 60 days before Election Day or during 17 days of in-person early voting, which is mandated in every county in North Carolina.
Now is time for North Carolina conservatives to step up, trust the system, verify the results, and improve early voting performance. If conservatives can encourage roughly 10-15% of their voters to move from Election Day voting to voting by mail or early in-person voting, they can approve overall ballot performance by 2 to 4%.
In a state as closely divided as North Carolina, this is the difference between winning and losing. Waiting to vote until Election Day not only increases the cost per vote for each of our candidates, who need to be spending time and money getting out less reliable voters, but it also puts votes at risk should a last minute emergency take place.
Conservatives must play the game by today’s rules, which means maximizing our efforts to bank votes before Election Day. If this is done, not only in North Carolina, but in other key states, there is every reason to believe conservatives will enjoy victory next year in the 2024 elections.