North Carolina Considers Requiring All Absentee Ballots Arrive by Election Day

An “Election Day Integrity Act” filed in the state Senate on Thursday could change the deadline for absentee ballots in North Carolina.

Senate Bill 88, titled the Election Day Integrity Act, would require all absentee ballots to be received by county election boards by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, whether they’re delivered in person or mailed. Current law allows ballots to be postmarked on or before Election Day, “and received by the county board of elections not later than three days of the election by 5 p.m.”

The legislation provides an exception for any conflict with federal law or when the State Board of Elections extends the closing time of polls for every poll in a county, which would extend the absentee ballot deadline to the same.

SB88 further adds a subsection to the law that states: “Each county board of elections and the State Board shall publish on its website and on any materials sent to voters the date by which absentee ballots are available for voting.” County boards would be required to publish the date by which a completed request form must be received, as well.

Another added section would task each county board of elections with reporting specific figures in regards to one-stop early voting and absentee ballots.

The required reports would include the number of absentee ballots that have been spoiled due to the voter voting in person at a one-stop voting site, and the number of outstanding absentee ballots, for each day of the one-stop early voting period.

County boards would also be required to report to the state board specific information “from the day after the day of the election through the day after the receipt deadline for absentee ballots … by 5 p.m. each day,” including the number of absentee ballots, number of outstanding absentee ballots, and number of voted provisional ballots.

“The State Board shall publish each report received by a county board of elections pursuant to this section on its website each day,” SB88 reads. “Each list shall be made publicly available and published in a readable and usable format.”

Republican Sens. Warren Daniel of Burke County, Paul Newton of Cabarrus County, and Ralph Hise of Mitchell County filed the legislation on Thursday, along with 10 Republican co-sponsors. The group is among the top members of the GOP in the chamber.

The bill is set to be introduced in the upper chamber on Monday. It would take effect once it becomes law and apply to elections after that date.

Hise is the deputy president pro tempore, and chairman of the Appropriations/Base Budget, and Redistricting and Elections committees. Newton is the Senate majority leader who chairs the Senate Finance and Redistricting and Elections committees. Daniel chairs the committees for Appropriations on Justice and Public Safety, Redistricting and Elections, and Judiciary, and is vice chairman of the committee on the Rules and Operations of the Senate.

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