In case you missed it, Raleigh’s News & Observer published one of its best editorials in some time yesterday. It deserves to be shared widely.
The subject is the — pardon the pun — “Trumped up” outrage being expressed by powerful Republican politicians at the recent action of the State Board of Elections in agreeing to some one-time improvements to voting rules to make sure that lots of North Carolinians aren’t disenfranchised this fall. As you’ve probably heard, the board settled a lawsuit challenging some of the state’s unnecessarily burdensome rules that would have assured that many North Carolinians voting by mail would have their ballots rejected for no good reason. The editorial rightfully dismisses Senator Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore’s recitations from the Trump playbook that this will somehow threaten the integrity of the election (absurd claims later repeated by Sen. Thom Tillis) as “comic relief.”
The settlement in a lawsuit brought by the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans was announced Tuesday. It extends the acceptance deadline for absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day. It also allows voters who fail to have a witness sign their ballot to fix the error by signing an affidavit attesting that the ballot is indeed their own.
These are commonsense changes given the Postal Service’s delays in delivering mail, the risk of meeting with a witness during a pandemic and the unfamiliarity with the rules on the part of many people who will be voting absentee for the first time. Other states have extended their deadlines for absentee ballots and changed their witness requirement for this pandemic election.
All five members of the State Board of Elections – including its two Republicans – agreed to the settlement, which must be approved by Wake Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins.
Of course, after they agreed to the improvements, the two GOP members of the board changed their minds — presumably after getting marching orders from higher up — and resigned. Then Berger and Moore let loose with their absurd claims that the changes will somehow allow officials to “undo” the election.
Here again is the N&O:
The funniest line was Berger fuming that the one-time tweaks in response to the pandemic would constitute “a full-frontal assault on election integrity laws.” This from a leader who has pushed through election laws that courts have found to be unconstitutional efforts to suppress votes or alter outcomes through extreme gerrymandering.
The Republican leaders don’t fear voter fraud. They fear voters. A closer look at the settlement shows the State Board of Elections made a prudent decision to settle the legal challenge to help absentee voters and head off confusion as Election Day nears.
Amen to that. As the editorial notes, the changes are minor no-brainers and the only reason the GOP leaders oppose them is because they’re worried about the prospect of more North Carolinians having their votes counted.
Click here to learn the specifics of the rules changes and to read the full editorial.