Rep. Amos Quick, a Guilford Democrat, speaks at a news conference denouncing voter restrictions.
Democrats in the North Carolina legislature are rebuking a new Senate bill that would make it harder for voters to cast mail-in ballots that would count toward candidate totals.
Legislative Democrats don’t have enough votes to stop new laws if all Republican legislators vote together. They hope news of the potential voting restrictions will inspire the public and business leaders to tell Republican legislators they’re going too far.
Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, called Senate bill 747 “the jumbo jet of a voter suppression bill,” at a news conference Monday.
The Senate Republican bill includes a provision that would require mailed ballots to arrive at county elections offices by election day if they are to be counted. The provision repeals the law passed in 2009 with broad bipartisan support that gives a three-day grace period for ballots postmarked by election day.
Voters could do everything right, including signing their ballots, including a copy of their ID, and getting two witnesses to sign, she said.
“Then they will do all that, and what will these Republican legislators force election workers to do with that ballot if it arrives the day after election day? Throw it in the trash. It’s not trash. It’s a vote, and it should count,” Marcus said.
Democrats underscored news that an attorney who helped former President Donald Trump try to overturn the 2020 election had input into the bill. She lives in North Carolina and runs a group called the Election Integrity Network.
WRAL reported last week that Cleta Mitchell met with Republican legislative leaders, and that seven of nine absentee voting changes that state affiliate NCEIT wanted are the Senate’s bill.
Senate leader Phil Berger’s office said Mitchell had no role in writing the bill, WRAL reported.
Republicans said in a press release last week that the bill is meant to improve confidence in elections.
Republican senators have repeatedly argued that not counting ballots received after election day would bring North Carolina in line with 30 other states.
Democrats said Republicans are just looking for more ways to toss ballots.
One of the things North Carolina has done well is try to make the vote as available to as many citizens as possible, said Senate Democratic leader Dan Blue of Wake County. “This is just a raw effort to just dissuade people from voting,” he said.
It’s likely that a ballot put in the mail three days before election day won’t make it to a county elections office in time, Blue said.
“They know that and they’re trying to design it so that the methods that were used to get greater participation in voting are not successful,” he said.
North Carolina has prided itself as being a leader in expanding opportunities, said Rep. Amos Quick, a Guilford County Democrat. “North Carolina is not interested in becoming North Florida or East Texas,” he said.
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