Republicans say North Carolina poll officials’ move wrests away legislature’s job
President Donald Trump’s campaign committee and the Republican National Committee sued on Saturday to block North Carolina election officials from enforcing rule changes that could boost the number of ballots counted in the presidential battleground state.
The Republicans’ lawsuit claims a new system adopted by the State Board of Elections will allow for absentee ballots to be cast late and without proper witness verification.
The elections board on Tuesday issued new guidance allowing mail-in absentee ballots with deficient information to be fixed without forcing the voter to fill out a new blank ballot for November’s general election.
The change means absentee voters, who don’t provide complete information on their envelope about a witness who saw them filling out the ballot, won’t have to complete a new ballot and locate another witness. A voter will just have to turn in an affidavit confirming they filled out the original ballot.
North Carolina is one of eight states with witness and/or notary public requirements for absentee ballots, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. North Carolina General Assembly leaders announced late Saturday they had also filed a similar lawsuit in federal court against board members. They asked a judge to block enforcement of the board’s absentee ballot alterations, which they contend would wrest away from the legislature its constitutional job to set the rules for federal elections.
The national Republicans’ federal lawsuit claims the state elections board made a partisan “backroom deal” that undermines state lawmakers’ “carefully-considered, balanced structure of election laws.” The suit claims the board’s guidance usurps a law that says a ballot may only be accepted if it has a witness signature on it.