Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a voting-related bill into law. This should help make voting safer and easier this fall, even if the pandemic conditions continue.
House Bill 1169 includes several changes to facilitate voting by absentee ballot. It also funds measures to reduce potential coronavirus spread during in-person voting. Among its provisions, the bill:
- Reduces the absentee ballot witness requirement from two to one
- Allows voters to submit an absentee ballot request form via email, online portal, fax, mail, or in person. (Prior to this bill, voters could submit an absentee ballot request form only by mail or in person.)
- Gives counties greater flexibility in where they assign poll workers, better allowing them to address possible poll worker shortages at precincts
- Allocates state matching funds to take advantage of federal CARES Act and HAVA money
- Allocates funds to counties to prepare for elections amid COVID-19, including the purchasing of personal protective equipment for use at polling places and increasing recruitment and compensation of poll workers
- Allocates funds for election security and continuity of operations in case of disaster
In his signing statement, Gov. Cooper said, “Making sure elections are safe and secure is more important than ever during this pandemic, and this funding is crucial to that effort. This legislation makes some other positive changes, but much more work is needed to ensure everyone’s right to vote is protected.”
We and other citizen environmental and public interest groups supported the bill’s positive provisions, while also arguing it should go further to make voting safe and easy for all citizens. We’ll keep pushing for more reforms, so stay tuned for ways you can help.