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Legislature Overrides Veto of Voter Suppression Bill; Crooked Elections Bill Next Up for Debate

The GOP-controlled legislature undermines democracy and elections in North Carolina.

The NC General Assembly last week overrode Governor Cooper’s veto of a massive new voter suppression law. Now, they may go further down the path of crooked election laws by passing a bill designed to weaken voting rights even more.

First, last week both chambers of the NC state legislature voted to override Governor Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 747, better known now as the “jumbo jet of voter suppression.” For a look at the specifics of how SB 747 undermines voting rights, follow this link.

The votes to override in both chambers were entirely along party lines, with Republicans voting for SB 747 and Democrats voting against. This underscores the truth of Governor Cooper’s message regarding the bill: “This legislation has nothing to do with election security and everything to do with Republicans keeping and gaining power. It requires valid votes to be tossed out unnecessarily, schemes to restrict early voting and absentee ballots, [and] encourages voter intimidation.”

With this package of voter suppression techniques now being inserted into law, the House is poised this week to vote on SB 747’s companion legislation, Senate Bill 749. As bad as SB 747 is, the impacts of SB 749 could be even worse.

SB 749 would change the structures of administering North Carolina elections in ways to encourage partisan gridlock on disputes regarding administration of elections, including the selection of early voting sites—and then limiting early voting to a single site in each county wherever the deadlocked county Board of Elections cannot agree on an early voting plan. It’s a plan tailor-made to reverse all progress made in recent years to increase voter turnout in our state, in ways designed to favor candidates of the party now in power over the NC state legislature.

“With their plan to pass S.B. 749, the radical Republicans in Raleigh are once again trying to break our democracy by disenfranchising North Carolinians and preventing us from fully participating in elections,” said Dan Crawford, Director of Government Relations at NCLCV. “By deadlocking the NC State Board of Elections and all 100 county boards of elections, early voting options will be limited and the legislature will gain greater control over decisions about elections that could limit their power. This bill is a win for election deniers and opponents of early voting – core constituencies of the radical Republicans in Raleigh. Voters overwhelmingly rejected this blatant power grab in 2018 and the legislature continues to ignore their will.”

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Fair and free elections in which the majority of North Carolinians decide who makes state law should be a nonpartisan priority. Tragically, that is not currently the case in our state’s General Assembly, now controlled by a narrow cadre of legislative leaders whose priority is to retain power at any cost. Lost in the process are the public’s interests in clean air and water and a livable environment for future generations. Vote after critical vote during this legislative session has gone in favor of the pro-polluter interests which rule the thinking of that same narrow set of legislators.

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