With uncertainty looming over how serious coronavirus will be this fall, a bipartisan push at the state legislature would make it easier for North Carolinians to vote by mail this year.
State officials are expecting a massive increase in people wanting to vote by mail in November. The legislature wants to make sure that goes smoothly, said Rep. Pricey Harrison, who has co-sponsored a new elections bill along with one fellow Democrat and two Republicans.
Usually, Harrison said, fewer than 5% of North Carolina voters choose to vote by mail — but for 2020, “they’re expecting a surge of up to 40%.”
Republican Rep. Holly Grange, the lead sponsor of House Bill 1169, said they wanted to give both state and local elections officials “the flexibility and resources needed to accommodate the expected increase in absentee ballot requests due to the pandemic.”
People who vote by mail now have to find two people to serve as witnesses while they vote. But the bill filed Friday would drop that requirement to just one witness.
Voters are currently not allowed to request absentee ballots by email or fax, but this bill would lift those restrictions.
It would also create a new tracking system, akin to what some retailers or pizza delivery companies have, to let voters ensure that their ballots make it through the mail and to the board of elections. And if there are problems with a ballot, the bill would create a new requirement for the state to notify the voter and let them fix it.