Source: Statesville Record & Landmark

The North Carolina State Board of Elections released a number of recommendations to the North Carolina General Assembly that would ensure elections in November can proceed without a hitch in case the coronavirus risk persists. Executive Director of the State Board Karen Brinson Bell wrote the letter.

According to the Statesville Record & Landmark, the recommendations have three main themes: Modifying absentee by-mail voting to make it simpler and more accessible, ensuring enough poll workers are available to work early voting and Election Day sites, and providing adequate funding for all of the recommendations.

“We believe the legislative recommendations released today would go a long way toward ensuring safe, accessible elections in 2020,” Bell said in the letter. “We look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly to respond to the unprecedented threat facing our elections system at this time.”

Whether Republicans in the General Assembly are willing to accept Bell’s recommendations remains to be seen. So far, 16 states have been forced to postpone their primary elections this year. Wisconsin carried on, despite serious concerns about the health and safety of voters.

In Wisconsin, an attempt to delay the primary amid concerns of public health was ultimately overturned by the United States Supreme Court. Because of their decision, the election went on with a reduced number of polling locations and potentially tens of thousands of absentee ballots were thrown away. The decision, Justice Ginsburg wrote in dissent, endangered the health of the voters and the nation: “Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others’ safety. Or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own.”

President Trump in a press conference said that it was okay for him to vote by mail, but questioned whether it should be allowed for everyone. “Well sure, I could vote by mail … because I’m allowed to,” Trump told reporters at a White House briefing. A full 72% of U.S. adults, including 79% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans, support a requirement for mail-in ballots this November, according to Reuters. And even the conservative National Review supports a modified approach to voting in the midst of a pandemic:

“We might beat COVID-19 by fall. But if we don’t, what happens to our November election? Two principles are paramount. The election must be held. And people who want to vote must be able to do so without fear of infection and without worsening the pandemic. To uphold those principles, we must expand no-excuse absentee voting and make drive-through voting possible now.”

The writers go on to say that it is possible to implement needed reforms to protect voters and democracy — “but only if action starts now.”
Read more about what proposals NCSBE executive director Karen Brinson Bell suggested in the Statesville Record & Landmark.