How To Say No To Voter Suppression
Why is North Carolina's GOP demanding more absentee ballot signature scrutiny?
Have you heard about the latest attempt to disrupt the voting system in North Carolina? Did you know there’s a public comment period that ends on July 5?
I heard about it just a few days ago, though it was last month that the North Carolina Republican Party filed a nine-page Request with the state Board of Elections on behalf of “aggrieved parties”. It ends with a notice that if the Board doesn’t answer within 30 days, “the decision is immediately subject to judicial review”. A law suit.
Absentee ballots are a traditional, verified, secure way for Americans to vote if they cannot or don’t wish to vote at the polls.
So what is the state Republican Party demanding?
NC Policy Watch says,
State Republicans want the elections board to issue a ruling that would allow county elections officials to compare voter signatures they have on file not only against those on the mail-in ballot envelopes, but also on the requests voters sign to obtain the ballots.
North Carolina already has some of the highest voting standards in the nation. A friend of ours has commented about this. She wrote,
This request is completely unnecessary and is a thinly veiled attempt to throw out ballots! North Carolina law currently requires an absentee voter to confirm their identity by having two witnesses or a notary attest that the voter completed their ballot. This request seeds an additional layer of verification for absentee voters.
I’d like to add that the handwritten signature on the voter’s ballot this fall might not match her original registration because she registered decades ago. And what if at that time she had a different last name?
Consider, too, all the added circumstances that would delay the Board’s return of absentee ballots to voters because their filled-in ballots contain errors. What if that leaves no time before the deadline for the voters to legally make corrections?
Also, it’s well known that some groups of voters rely on absentee voting more than others. CNN said on September 14, 2020,
… [North Carolina‘s early voting began] on September 4; [so far] about 2% of the roughly 10,000 absentee ballots returned … had been rejected because of some issue, including potential signature problems …
That rejection rate was higher for Black voters, however, at nearly 7%. Voters in the state whose ballots are invalidated will be sent a new mail-in ballot.
"If you move, you may not even get your ballot, and we know younger voters, racial, ethnic minorities, lower-income voters tend to move more. That's certainly been the case with the pandemic. That's going to raise a problem with you getting your ballot in the first place," [University of Florida professor Daniel] Smith said.
To me, the current attempt to confuse our well-run voting process calls for not only public comment, but a public outcry. Here’s my letter.
Read the full “NCGOP Request for a Declaratory Ruling from NCSBE” here.
Your public comment must be received by July 5, 2022; submit your comment to the Board of Elections here. See other ways, below.