Legislation filed in the N.C. House of Representatives on Friday permanently prohibits the State Board of Elections from moving to an all-by-mail election or sending unrequested ballots to voters. 

House Bill 1169 is intended to address potential difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, stated a press release from House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland). Mail-in ballots are already available in North Carolina to any voter who requests one, and they would remain so under HB 1169.

The bill also:

• requires more information from absentee ballot witnesses, including a printed name and address;

• temporarily reduces the witness requirement for absentee ballot submissions from two witnesses to one;

• allows absentee ballot requests to be submitted by email, fax or a new online portal;

• provides CARES Act and HAVA matching and federal funds for counties for use for supporting in-person voting and increased absentee ballot costs;

• provides temporary flexibility for recruiting precinct officials. 

The bill is sponsored by House Elections and Ethics Law Committee co-chairs Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover) and Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), as well as Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) and Rep. Allison Dahle (D-Wake).

The legislature and Gov. Roy Cooper previously agreed to bipartisan elections reforms in 2019 adjusting the state's absentee ballot process in response to election fraud in the 9th Congressional District in the

Sponsors of the bill released a joint statement: "These proposed election reforms and funding will receive a thorough bipartisan review in the legislative process to find consensus on our shared priority of making sure every voter in North Carolina has access to the ballot and confidence in our election results," the lawmakers said in a joint statement. 

Moore said the legislative process was the proper forum for temporary elections law reforms that serve North Carolinians.

"Voters deserve consensus bipartisan efforts to improve our elections systems, and this General Assembly will provide the necessary funding and reforms to effectively administer elections in the 2020 cycle,” he added.

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