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North Carolina Governor Vetoes GOP Election Bill, Setting Up Override Clash

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a Republican-led bill on Thursday that would make sweeping changes to the state’s election laws, including the rules for absentee voting and same-day registration.

The veto is likely to be overridden by the state’s GOP-controlled General Assembly.

“Right now, legislative Republicans in North Carolina are pushing an all-out assault on the right to vote,” the governor charged in a Thursday video message.

absentee ballots but would extend the period for challenging such ballots to five days after the election.

The law would also impose new requirements for same-day registrants, including the use of a “retrievable ballot” with a unique identifier, and would allow election observers to move freely about voting locations instead of being confined to a specific area.

Criticizing the bill, Mr. Cooper accused Republicans of attempting to disenfranchise young and minority voters with the new absentee ballot restrictions.

“They know that younger and nonwhite voters tend to vote more by absentee ballot or by early voting, so they shortened the time your absentee ballots can arrive and still count. And they made it easier to throw them out,” he said.

The governor also vowed to veto another elections-related bill, Senate Bill 749, if it reaches his desk. That piece of legislation would shift the power to select members of the state’s elections board from the governor to the legislature and would restructure the board to have an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans have argued that the bills strengthen North Carolina’s elections and help to prevent fraud.

“We are creating a secure election system that makes it easy to vote and protects election integrity,” said Republican state Sen. Warren Daniel of Burke County. “But Gov. Cooper wants his handpicked partisans running our elections, and he apparently feels threatened by North Carolinians observing what happens in their polling places.”

Republicans hold a veto-proof supermajority in the state’s legislature—a power they have used in recent weeks to override the governor’s rejection of legislation banning sex-reassignment surgeries for minors and male participation in female sports, among other bills.

If enacted, most of the election bills’ changes are likely to take effect in early 2024, before voters weigh in on the presidential race.

The Tar Heel state is expected to be a fierce battleground in the contest, and races for governor, Congress, the General Assembly, and state and local offices will also dot voters’ ballots.

Mr. Cooper, who is term-limited, will not be on that ballot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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