Announcing Adoption of the House Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) to Senate Bill 747 (Omnibus Elections Bill)
This evening (August 16th) the House passed its proposed committee substitute (PCS) to Senate Bill 747 with two minor amendments that were run from the House floor. The bill now moves back to the Senate for consideration and adoption, as is, or for conference to work out the differences in the two chamber versions. NCEIT believes this bill is reasonably sound to support because it enacts several important changes to NC election law. However, two important deficiencies persist in the bill and merit the atttention of legislators:
Section 17 of the PCS bill was a last minute addition that permanently opens up all primary elections to Unaffiliated voters. This robs the political parties of the option of closing their primaries. It is a power grab by the legislature to prevent republicans from exclusively choosing their republican candidates for each general election. The measure does not measurably contribute to election integrity. NCEIT vigorously opposes this addition to the Elections Bill and seeks to have it sticken from the bill prior to its final passage.
Senate Bill 747 fails to address public access to Cast Vote Records (CVRs), a vitally important artifact from tabulation machines. In 28 of the 50 states, CVRs are publicly available electronic files that are used to validate election tallies after each election. In North Carolina, the CVRs are available from machines, but are not accessible to the public as an election record. Language authorizing access ot CVRs as public records was contained in House BIll 770, which is not likely to pass out of the House. NCEIT believes it appropriate to add the H770 language, authorizing public access to CVRs, to S747 so it can become law this session.
Please call or email your respective legislators to inform them you support passage of the House PCS to S747 with the above two changes. Find your rep here https://ncleg.gov/Members/MemberList/H
About the Bill as Adopted:
What Election Law Improvements are in the House PCS to Senate Bill 747?
*Prohibition of private, non-governmental funding (including in-kind donations) of election activities (Sections 2, 4-5)
*Retention of election records for 22 months to comply with the NVRA (Sections 2 and 4);
*Provides some clarifications to authority and restrictions for poll observers (Section 7.b)
*Same Day Registrant addresses are checked and returned mailings will trigger retrieval of voted regular ballots (Section 10.a);
*Extends Absentee Ballot Challenge Period to five days after election day (Section 15);
*Allows for Chief Judges and Judges at Early Voting Sites (other than Board of Election sites), although it lacks parity requirements for judges (Section 27)
*Polls will close at 7:30PM on election day and all absentee/mail-in ballots must be received by that time (Section 35)
*Makes it a misdemeanor crime for anyone other than a Board of Elections to affix a tracking code to absentee ballot request forms (Section 37.a)
*Provides a new process for removing non-citizens from voter lists (Section 44).
*Implements a pilot test for signature verification on mail-in ballot envelopes (Section 48).
What are the Deficiencies in the House PCS to Senate Bill 747?
*Section 17 of the PCS eliminates the state party’s authority to open or close its primaries to unaffiliated voters, permanently opening the partisan primaries to unaffiliated voters
*Still lacks clarification for some Poll Observer permitted activities in performing their duties as prescribed by law (NCGS 163-45)- Freedom to move about the facility; Ability to freely inspect ATVs; Ability to closely monitor tabulation machines; Ability to speak with other election officials than Chief Judge
*No requirement for local Boards of Elections to accept citizen affidavits or other evidence to investigate and correct known deficiencies on county voter lists
*No partisan parity required among numbers of Chief Judges and Judges working at voting sites
*Does not require that all voters using same day registration and voting be issued a provisional ballot to allow optimal time for address verification and to make it easier to retrieve the ballot
*Does not provide a means for observers or citizens to inspect container return envelopes or to reasonably challenge voters who do not live in their counties (or the state) prior to canvass
*The bill fails to specify that machine Cast Vote Records (CVRs) are publicly releasable immediately after election day as they are in 28 other states
*Section 35 of the bill allows for “curing” of mail-in ballot envelopes for acceptance after poll closure on election day- no curing should occur after the polls close and the votes are being tallied.
NCEIT | PO Box 146, Sanford, NC 27331, Sanford, NC 27330