GOP House members want to push up deadline for absentee ballots

Over the latest legislative session, North Carolinians have seen an increasing number of bills that aim to suppress or create obstacles for voters. Jim Crow-era voter suppression laws like Senate Bills 326 and 377 have come in full force as legislators push harmful legislation that not only seeks to make the process of voting more difficult, but blatantly disenfranchises Black voters. 

Recently, Republicans have pushed out House Bill 782, which would shorten the absentee ballot deadline by requiring absentee ballots to arrive at county elections offices by the close of Election Day and be counted no later than the day after the election.

  • Under current state law, mailed absentee ballots have to be postmarked no later than Election Day, with a three-day grace period for ballots to go through the mail system and get to county elections officials.
  • In a House Elections committee meeting last week, State Board of Elections counsel Katelyn Love told the committee that 11,635 mail-in ballots arrived during the three days after the November 2020 general election. If HB 782 was enacted, those votes would not have been counted.

The historic voter turnout of 2020 has shown us that expanding voting options for all eligible voters allows everyone within our community to have a say in determining critical issues and representation that reflects their concerns. 

With SB 326 and HB 782, Republicans are denying eligible North Carolinians their right in participating in our democracy and stripping away their freedom to cast a ballot. These laws are just the latest in a long history of disenfranchising voters, especially Black and Brown voters who already have difficulty accessing different voting options due to systemic racism and historical GOP voter suppression efforts. 

Bottom Line: Time after time, Republicans have used voter suppression tactics and laws in order to pick and choose who they want voting. They’ve done it by extreme gerrymandering, discriminatory voter ID laws and are continuing their efforts by shortening the deadline for absentee ballots. 

If Republicans took the same energy that they use to suppress North Carolina voters into passing pro-voter reforms, our state could break the success of 2020’s general election turnout by ensuring every eligible North Carolinian is registered, can cast their ballots, and have their ballot counted.

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Alanna Joyner

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