North Carolina is one of many states adjusting rules around voting in order to accomodate the unknowns of an election taking place amidst a pandemic. But the measures taken to make voting more accessible have been met with criticism from Republican leaders.
In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections joined forces with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles to allow customers of the DMV to register online to vote or update their registration.
North Carolina’s elections executive director Karen Brinson Bell proposed additional changes intended to increase voting access, including making it easier for voters to request mail ballots and making Election Day a state holiday, according to WFAE.
But the top Republican lawmaker, Senate leader Phil Berger, opposed her recommendations offhand.
“I don’t see us making Election Day a state holiday,” Berger told WFAE. Most poll workers are elderly and more at risk to COVID-19; making Election Day a holiday would allow for a varied cohort of poll workers.
Some states like Georgia have decided to mail every eligible voter an absentee ballot request form, allowing them to vote without leaving their home. That practice is already commonplace in other states, like Washington and Arizona. In Washington, all voters vote by mail. Even while Washington was the first epicenter of coronavirus in the United States, the state had the highest turnout of any other in the presidential primary.
Even with the success of mail-in voting for states like Washington, Republicans have pushed back against the prospect of increased ballot access. In Georgia, all 6.9 million active voters are being mailed absentee ballot request forms. The prospect of increased turnout in the primary election is “devastating,” according to Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican.
“This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia,” Ralston told FetchYourNews, a Georgia news site. “Every registered voter is going to get one of these…This will certainly drive up turnout.”
These concerns have been echoed by the nation’s top Republican, too. On a call to Fox & Friends, President Trump said, with regard to Democratic voting proposals, “The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Read more about what voting measures North Carolina Republicans oppose from WFAE.