Elections in the Era of COVID-19
On June 12, Governor Cooper signed into law House Bill 1169, otherwise known as the Bipartisan Elections Act of 2020, intended to address concerns over voting during the pandemic. Key provisions of the law include:
- Witness requirements for absentee ballots are reduced from two to one.
- Requests for absentee ballots may now be submitted by email or fax in addition to being delivered in person or by mail.
- Multipartisan Assistance Teams (MAT) that assist voters in hospitals, nursing homes, etc., may now serve any voter who requests assistance in 2020.
- The State Board of Elections is required to set up an online portal for absentee ballot requests by Sep. 1.
- Elections officials are prohibited from conducting an all mail-in ballot election or from sending absentee ballots without a valid request. Doing so constitutes a Class I Felony.
- Public assistance IDs are now acceptable for photo ID purposes. As the photo ID law is currently stalled in the courts, this will not be in effect unless the injunctions are lifted.
- Federal CARES Act funds are allocated to provide counties with resources for safety measures (e.g., PPE) and other unanticipated expenses resulting from COVID-19.
While some of these changes are positive and necessary, others are worrisome and open the door to election fraud by relaxing requirements and creating avenues for ballot harvesting, i.e., absentee ballot misuse.
Republicans will need to be vigilant and serve locally in their precincts and polling places to protect the integrity of our elections!
For a broader discussion of the changes enacted by HB 1169, see this summary provided by the NC State Board of Elections.