Rallying for election reforms, House Democrats unveiled a new bill entitled the “Fix Our Democracy Act” and highlighted a recently introduced measure designed to safeguard voting rights at a press conference Tuesday.
Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, said the Safeguarding Voting Rights bill (HB 446) she’s co-sponsoring “gives no favor to any party” by focusing on four areas to ensure ease and accessibility for voting: voter registration and absentee/mail-in voting, recruitment of pollworkers, increasing flexibility for voting hours and the rights to vote during state holidays.
Morey stressed the importance of expanding mail-in voting. The bill would require the state Board of Elections to send out absentee ballot requests to every eligible voter with pre-paid postage at least 90 days before Election Day. The bill would make the one-witness requirement enacted temporarily by the General Assembly for the 2020 elections a permanent measure. The bill further requires at least one drop-off site in each county. Ballots postmarked by Election Day would still be counted if received no later than three days after the Election Day at 5 pm.
“My colleagues and myself strongly believe this is the time we encourage people to vote,” Morey said.She noted that HB 446 seeks to make voting secure and easy and noted the many restrictive voting bills have been introduced across the country.
Rep. Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford, previewed another new bill HB 542. She said the Fix our Democracy Act aims to fix our democracy “each person having an equal voice”
Clemmons explained that the proposal builds upon House and Senate bills with the same name from 2019, by advancing a series of reforms in elections, redistricting, voting, campaign finance, lobbying and transparency. Neither of the 2019 bills made it out of their committees.
A Senate version of HB 542, SB 716 has also been introduced by Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg.
Among the Fix Our Democracy Act’s provisions are:
Voting and redistricting
- Online and automatic voter registration – The measure allows eligible citizens to register to vote automatically whenever they interact with government agencies, such as the DMV, unless they decline to do so. A voter purge would only be allowed when the nonforwarding postcard from the county board of commission was returned.
- At least one polling place required on college campuses with over 4,500 enrolled students. Read more